Palestinian woman relates calling off suicide attack

Friday, May 31, 2002

JERUSALEM -- Tawriya Hamamra, a young Palestinian woman, had barely an hour's training in preparation for a suicide bombing. All she really needed to remember was how to work the detonator button that rested on her hip.

But Hamamra had second thoughts about the attack, and instead of going to Jerusalem as planned, she went to her aunt's home in the West Bank. She was arrested shortly afterward by Israeli security forces.

"I didn't feel fear. I am not afraid of dying. I went for personal reasons. I was afraid of how God would look on me if I came for impure reasons," the 25-year-old told a small group of journalists selected by the Israeli authorities to interview her. Her account appeared in newspapers Thursday.

Another Palestinian woman, Arin Ahmed, 20, was arrested Wednesday at her home near Bethlehem on suspicion she had planned to take part in a double suicide bombing. She also backed out, according to Israeli intelligence officials cited in the newspapers. However, a second bomber, a 16-year-old boy, struck last week in the Israeli city of Rishon Letzion, killing two Israelis.

In a statement Thursday, the Israeli government said security agents learned of Ahmed after they detained a Palestinian and his Israeli wife, who drove a suicide bomber to Rishon Letzion on May 22. The city was to be Ahmed's target. The security agency did not say how agents found Hamamra.

Of the more than 60 Palestinian suicide bombers who have struck since the current violence erupted in September 2000, two have been women. In a third case, it was not clear whether the woman was planting a bomb or intended to blow herself up.

Palestinian women have not traditionally engaged in fighting, although they have led some marches.

Palestinians say the involvement of women shows the depth of frustration against Israel because of hardships brought on by Israeli restrictions, which have crippled the Palestinian economy and caused widespread poverty.

Bans said necessary

The Israelis say the restrictions, including roadblocks and a ban on entry into Israel to work, are necessary to stop militants.

The Israeli military said 208 Israelis have been killed in suicide attacks -- many of them young children, women and the elderly. Among the sites targeted were an ice cream parlor, shopping malls, discos and a hotel restaurant where families had gathered for the Passover Seder.

The Palestinian Authority, headed by Yasser Arafat, has denounced the suicide attacks as harmful to Palestinian interests and international opinion.

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