|Palestinian Grandmother Attacks Israeli Troops
64-year-old blows herself up, wounding two Israeli soldiers.
ASSOCIATED PRESS - November 24th 2006
JEBALIYA, Gaza Strip—A 64-year-old (some sources say she was 68) Palestinian grandmother blew herself up near Israeli troops sweeping through northern Gaza yesterday, and eight other Palestinians were killed in a day of clashes and rocket fire.
The militant Hamas, which is in charge of the Palestinian government, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack and identified the bomber as Fatma Omar An-Najar. Her relatives said she was 64 — by far the oldest of the more than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers who have targeted Israelis over the past six years.
Israeli forces were moving through the Jebaliya refugee camp on the second day of an operation to stem rocket fire from the coastal strip into southern Israel. They spotted a woman acting suspiciously, the military said. Soldiers threw a stun grenade, a weapon that makes a loud noise but causes no damage. The woman then set off explosives she was carrying, killing herself and slightly wounding two soldiers.
At the compound where her extended family lives near Jebaliya camp, her oldest daughter Fatheya explained the bomber's motives.
"They (Israelis) destroyed her house, they killed her grandson — my son," she said. "Another grandson is in a wheelchair with an amputated leg."
The last suicide bombing, on Nov. 6, was also carried out by a woman in northern Gaza.
Eight other Palestinians were killed in Gaza yesterday, including three militants from the Palestinian Resistance Committees in an Israeli air strike.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades said one of its men was killed in a clash and three Hamas militants were killed in a gun battle with Israeli forces. Another man died of wounds in hospital.
Also yesterday, Palestinian militant groups offered to stop firing rockets into Israel in exchange for a cessation of all attacks on the Gaza Strip and West Bank, an official told Reuters. But an Israeli government official swiftly rejected the offer, demanding that militants lay down their weapons first.
Palestinian Fatma Omar An-Najar seen with a rifle before yesterday’s suicide bombing in Gaza Strip.
Fatma presided over a small army of terror operatives, mostly from the Hamas movement, but with a few active in the rival Fatah. Her husband, who died a year ago, served time in Israeli jails, as did five of her seven sons. One of her numerous grandsons died at 17 four years ago, fighting IDF troops during an incursion into nearby Beit Lahiya, relatives said, and another teenage grandson lost a leg from gunshot wounds after he tried to stab a soldier.
One of her sons, Samir, 36, estimated that her nine offspring had a total of between 35 and 38 children of their own.
"She had an army of grandchildren," he said.
The military reported soldiers spotted the grandmother carrying explosives and threw a stun grenade at her, causing her to set off the explosives she was carrying. Two soldiers were slightly wounded in the blast, the military said.
IDF troops clashed with Palestinian gunmen on Thursday as tanks, snipers and attack helicopters intensified their efforts to hunt down Kassam rocket squads in the northern Gaza Strip.
Eight Palestinians - including Faik Abu al-Kumsan, head of the Popular Resistance Committees' (PRC) military wing and responsible for overseeing the Kassam firing cells - were killed in the course of the day.
Eight IDF soldiers were also injured, including three who sustained light injuries after a Palestinian female suicide bomber exploded near forces in northern Gaza.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing attempt and identified the suicide bomber as Fatma Omar an-Najar, 68. The IDF said soldiers spotted the bomber and threw a stun grenade at her, causing the detonation of the explosives she was carrying.
At the ramshackle compound where the extended family lives, her oldest daughter, Fatheya, 52, explained her motives.
"They [Israelis] destroyed her house, they killed her grandson - my son. Another grandson is in a wheelchair with an amputated leg," she said. "She and I, we went to the mosque. We were looking for martyrdom."
Bringing back images of the recent war in Lebanon, the IDF faced mostly anti-tank missiles, which were fired at armored vehicles and homes that troops used for cover. IDF sources said that in contrast to Hizbullah, the anti-tank missiles in the hands of the Palestinians were outdated and caused less damage than the Russian-made Kornet and Fagot employed by the Lebanese guerrilla group.
Sources in the Southern Command said the operation was planned to continue for several weeks in an effort to destroy terror infrastructure and prevent Kassam rocket fire.
Four soldiers were lightly-to-moderately wounded by anti-tank fire.
One of the soldiers was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, while the other was sent to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
Elsewhere in Gaza, three soldiers were lightly wounded during an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen.
At night, IAF aircraft fired missiles at a car traveling in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip. Al-Kumsan, the PRC military chief and head of the Kassam infrastructure, was killed alongside one of his aides.
Hamas spokesman Abu Obeideh said both Palestinian men and women were committed to battling the Israelis. "We told the Zionist enemy we will meet it with many surprises... and this is one of the surprises, presented by a 68-year-old woman," he said.
At dawn Thursday, a 20-year-old gunman was killed as IDF tanks rumbled up to an apartment complex on the outskirts of Beit Lahiya. Troops fired bursts from turret-mounted machine guns, killing the gunman and wounding another man, before the tanks withdrew. Two known Hamas operatives were also killed in a gun battle with IDF units, and another was shot dead as he was about to fire a rocket into Israel.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), IDF and an Israel Police elite anti-terror unit nabbed four Islamic Jihad terrorists planning to perpetrate suicide bombings in Israel. The four were arrested overnight Wednesday in the village of Kabatiya, south of Jenin. During the operation, gun battles erupted but no soldiers were wounded.
A relative holds a picture of Fatma Omar An-Najar who blew herself up near Israeli soldiers in Jebaliya.