Palestinian female suicide bombers: Virtuous heroines or damaged goods?
To date, approximately seventy Palestinian women are numbered as having been involved in suicide bombing attempts in Israel – ten of whom actually carried out an attack and died in the process. Indeed, notwithstanding the decline in Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel since the tahadiya (the unilateral temporary restraint that was announced in March 2005), two of the eleven suicide attacks were carried out by women. Both of these women were dispatched from Gaza in the span of less than a month. On November 6, 2006, Marwa Masoud, an eighteen-year-old student from the Islamic College in Gaza blew herself up near a group of soldiers, killing herself and slightly wounding one soldier. A few weeks later, on November 23, another female suicide bomber, Fatma Omar al-Najar, a fifty-seven-yearold grandmother with over thirty grandchildren, also detonated herself. Dispatched by Hamas, al-Najar was identified by IDF soldiers who shot at her and foiled her plan before she was able to inflict any casualties, however she did in fact manage to detonate her bomb and injure two soldiers. In addition to the above, a female suicide bomber from the West Bank was apprehended on the way to carrying out an attack in an Israeli city. Moreover, recently published statements by five women associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were suggestive of their intent to engage in such a mission in the future. In May, two mothers thirty-nine-year-old Fatima Younes Hassan Zaq, a mother of eight and pregnant with her ninth child, and Zaq’s niece,
thirty-year-old Rawda Ibrahim Younes Habib, a mother of four, were intercepted at the Erez crossing in the Gaza Strip for their intention to perpetrate a double suicide bombing attack.