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Mahmoud Tawallbe

Mahmoud Tawallbe was the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Jenin, one of the main stronghold of the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization.

Tawallbe was involved in many attacks against Israelis but he was best known for being the leader of the Palestinian guerrilla warriors in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield.

The Israeli authorities knew all about Jenin, and they knew those in the camp they wanted to take out. Their top target was Mahmoud Tawalbe, a 23-year-old father of two who worked in a record store but also headed the local Islamic Jihad cell. Tawalbe had launched numerous attacks against Israelis, including a shooting last October that killed four Israeli women on the main street of Hadera, a town north of Tel Aviv. Last July, Tawalbe had dispatched his 19-year-old brother Murad on a suicide mission to Haifa. (Murad lost his nerve and surrendered to Israeli police.) Other top Islamic Jihad targets in Jenin included Thabet Mardawi and Ali Suleiman al-Saadi, known as Safouri. Mardawi was behind a March 20 suicide bomb that killed seven Israelis on a bus, while Safouri had planned a November shooting that killed two Israelis. (1)

Tawallbe was the most admired man in Jenin and was chose to arrenge and manage the battle over Jenin. Tawallbe order to booby-trap the entire camp in order to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible. Even children took part in the bomb-making efforts.

Not all the Palestinians who died were so innocent. The man the Israelis most wanted to find in Jenin, Mahmoud Tawalbe, took a quick break from the fighting on Day 7 to visit his mother Tuffahah and his brother Ahmed. Ahmed told Time Mahmoud looked pleased with his work: camp lore holds that Mahmoud killed 13 Israelis in the fighting. He and his crew of about 50 Islamic Jihad fighters were hitting the Israelis hard. On Day 6, two more Israeli soldiers had been slain. "Don't worry about me," Mahmoud told his mother. "I feel strong." (2)

Tawallbe was killed in Jenin by an alert Caterpillar D9 (an armoured military bulldozer) operator who thrawrted an attampt of Tawallbe and his hencemen to plant a bomb over Israeli AFVs. Time Magazine describes it:

A day later, he was dead. Time visited the rubble of the house where Tawalbe died. The three-story structure shows signs of attack from two directions. One wall was charred by fire; the wall on the other side had collapsed. David Holley, a British military expert working in the camp for Amnesty International, deduces from the bomb craters and tank tracks that Tawalbe and the two fighters who accompanied him went into the house to get close enough to a tank or D-9 to plant explosives on it; the Palestinians' bombs, says Holley, were useless unless they were placed directly on the armor of a vehicle. Holley surmises that the bulldozer driver saw the Palestinians and rammed the wall down on top of Tawalbe. (3)

After the battle of Jenin, Mahmoud Tawallbe was considered a hero by many Palestinians and Arabs worldwide.
A week later by which time Tawalbe's name was known throughout the Arab world his family dug out his body and that of another fighter who died with him. The bodies had been so badly mangled by the falling masonry that the burial party could not distinguish one from the other; they were interred together in Jenin's Martyrs' Cemetery. A few days later, posters of Tawalbe labeled general of the martyrs appeared all over the camp, and children marched along the alleys chanting his name.

His terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians were hailed along with his leadership in the battle of Jenin. While Palestinians see him as a "martyr", the Israelis see him as a cruel ruthless terrorist, whoes atrocities come to an end.