One of the two new Hamas co-leaders, Khaled Mashal, called two years ago for the training of child suicide bombers - and the program seems to be well underway. Yesterday, for the second time in a week, alert IDF soldiers discovered a young Arab boy from the Palestinian Authority wearing an explosives vest designed to kill him and as many Israelis as possible.

Yesterday afternoon, at the Hawara checkpoint near Shechem (Nablus) - in the area of Yitzhar and other Jewish communities - soldiers saw a boy approaching the checkpoint. Their suspicions aroused by the way he walked and carried himself, they immediately called out to him to stop and not to come near the soldiers. They told him to lift his shirt; he did so, revealing a gray vest packed with explosives. He held the switch in his hand, and could have detonated it at any given second. He appeared scared, and for 40 tense minutes the soldiers, with the aid of a robot and scissors, guided him in removing the vest.

Asked afterwards why he agreed to kill himself, he gave several explanations: "People don't like me," he said, adding that his schoolmates laughed at him for being short, that the Tanzim promised him 100 shekels for his mother and 72 virgins in Paradise. He said that his teacher taught him that waiting for him in Paradise were rivers of honey and wine and 72 virgins, and that "if I do good acts, I will sit there and enjoy." Those "good acts" include, apparently, murdering Israelis.

The boy said that his family does well financially and that he often listens to music over the internet. He said nothing about "conquest," "oppression" or "the killing of Sheikh Yassin" as being his motivation.

The boy's uncle said this morning that if he knew who sent his nephew to blow himself up, "I would shoot him in the head."

Some 60 PA figures have issued a public call for a "smart, non-violent intifada." Though they sharply condemn Israel's killing of Hamas arch-terrorist leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, they write in a PA newspaper today that PA elements should not be "dragged along" by what they call "Sharon's provocation," but should rather unite against Sharon's "government of terror."

Nine days ago, Palestinian terrorist elements were willing to sacrifice a 10-year-old boy whom they equipped, without his knowledge, with a bomb inside a bag. They promised him 5 shekels if he would give the bag to someone on the other side of the checkpoint - but planned to detonate the bomb by remote control if he was caught.

The IDF reported that more than 40 other minors who were involved in planning suicide bombings have been arrested by security forces since 2001. Twenty-two shootings and bombings were actually perpetrated by minors during this period.