chapter  9
21 Pages

Martyrs or murderers? Victims or victimizers? The voices of would-be Palestinian female suicide bombers

ByANAT BERKO, EDNA EREZ

The January 2002 appearance of Palestinian women on the suicide bombing scene surprised players on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Offering a drastic deviation from their traditional roles in Palestinian society, women’s involvement in violent resistance marked a turning point in the discourse and media representation of the suicide bombing phenomenon. Although women had been active in the Palestinian national struggle for a long time, their activities prior to 2002 were limited to actions short of violence. In the first Intifada, (uprising) ending with the Oslo Accords (1987-93), and the second Intifada, (2000 to the present), Palestinian women participated in demonstrations, were active members of popular committees, or assisted in the production of terrorist attacks. By and large, until 2002, the contribution of women to the military conflict had been mostly restricted to giving birth to sons – future soldiers – that could be dispatched to fight Israel (Tzoreff, 2006).2 The entry of eight women into the exclusively male circle of Palestinian suicide bombers since January 2002 raises the question of whether the participation of females in such acts represents a shift in the status of women in Palestinian society.