The Exploitation of Palestinian Women for Terrorism
(Background information from Israeli security sources)

April 18, 2002

Since the outbreak of the current wave of Palestinian terrorism in September 2000, there have been nine noteworthy cases recorded in which Palestinian women were exploited for terrorist attacks against Israel. The peak of this phenomenon came with the carrying out of four suicide attacks by Palestinian women in Jerusalem between January – April 2002. In the assessment of the security forces, the terrorist organizations intend to adopt this method and make use of additional Palestinian women to carry out attacks. As a result of this, the security system is clarifying the need for careful inspection and increased awareness with regard to suspicious women, despite the increased burden and unpleasantness involved.

Eight of the nine cases in question, including the suicide attacks in Jerusalem, were directed by members of the Fatah movement in Judea and Samaria, while one was directed by Hamas.

Terrorist organizations orchestrating these attacks are hoping to exploit the advantages of using women to carry out terrorist attacks, mainly within the ‘Green Line’. This is based on the assumption that a woman is seen as being tender, delicate and innocent and thus arouses less suspicion than a man, both on her way to the Green Line and while inside the Green Line area. This is manifested in practice in a certain laxity in inspection.

The most striking cases of this phenomenon are the terrorist Wafa Idris, a resident of Ramallah, who carried out a suicide attack in Jerusalem on January 27, 2002 in which one person was killed and ninety were injured, and the terrorist Darin Abu-Aisha of Beit Wazan in Samaria, who blew herself up on February 27, 2002 near the Maccabim roadblock, injuring two Israeli policemen.

Another case of a woman suicide bomber is that of Ayat Alahras, an eighteen-year-old from Dehaisha refugee camp near Bethlehem, who carried out a suicide bombing on March 29, 2002 at a supermarket in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood of Jerusalem in which two Israeli citizens were killed and twenty two were injured.

The latest suicide attack was carried out on April 12, 2002. The terrorist, Andalib Suleiman, a 21-year-old Tanzim operative from Bethlehem, blew herself up at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. In this attack six people were killed and over 60 were injured. Among those killed were two workers from China.

In addition, we have seen two other cases in which Palestinian women intending to carry out suicide attacks were arrested by the security forces before they could carry out their plans.

On April 11, 2002, one day after the IDF withdrew from the town of Tulkarm, the terrorist Shefa’a Alkudsi, a Tanzim operative aged 26, divorced and the mother of a little girl, was found in her parents’ apartment in the town. She was planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Israel, disguised as a pregnant woman.

When the IDF entered the town of Bethlehem during Operation Defensive Shield, a teenager, Shiriz Rabiya, aged 15, was stopped for questioning and admitted that she had been recruited by her uncle, a Tanzim operative, to carry out a suicide attack in Israel.

As noted, these are not the only terrorist attacks in which Palestinian women have been involved.

  • On January 17, 2002, the Israeli teenager Ofir Rahum was kidnapped and murdered with the help of Amna’a Mouna, a journalist and Fatah activist from Ramallah.

  • On August 9, 2001 a suicide attack took place in the Sbarro restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem. The suicide terrorist was brought there by Ahlam Tamimi, also a journalist, originally from Jordan and living in Ramallah. She was also involved in gathering operational intelligence prior to the attack. In addition, Ahlam was responsible for planting a bomb concealed in a beer can in a Jerusalem supermarket on July 30, 2001.

  • On August 3, 2001 an attempt was made by Iman Asha, a Nablus woman, to plant a booby-trapped package in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

  • On August 31, 2001 a booby-trapped package carried by Abir Hamdan, a resident of Nablus, exploded during her journey from Tulkarm to Nablus, apparently as a result of a ‘work accident’ during preparations for carrying out an attack on a restaurant in Hadera.

    In all these cases the terrorists were aware of the need for disguise to enable them to fit into the ‘Israeli street’. They tried to adopt an Israeli appearance, including wearing western clothes, short skirts, maternity clothes and modern accessories. Ahlam Tamimi even carried a camera with her and spoke English to her partner, the terrorist who blew himself up in the Sbarro restaurant, so as to appear to be an innocent tourist.

    In most of these cases, these women are from the two extremes of Palestinian society, and usually do not fit the ‘accepted’ image of the ‘average Palestinian woman‘.

    Wafa Idris, for example, an academic and nurse by profession, was divorced because she was unable to have children. Abir Hamdan was known as a young woman of ‘ill repute’ because of her romantic ties with many men. Another example is Iman Asha, married with two children, whose husband was suspected of collaboration with Israel, who wanted to ‘clear’ his name by her actions.

    These women thus include educated women with respected professions, as well as simple young women with no higher education. In all cases, the women carried a heavy ‘personal load’.

    In addition to that stated above, it is known that senior members of the Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas, expressed support for the involvement of women in terrorism as part of the ‘overall Palestinian war effort’. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of Hamas, has said in the past that "everyone should participate in the decisive stage against the Israeli occupation, without exception". Hassan Khalil, one of the leaders of Hamas in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, also said after the attack in which Waffa Idris blew herself up on January 27, 2002 that "there is no law preventing a Muslim woman from resisting occupation".

    During the current intifada, there has been an increase in the number of expressions of readiness and volunteering on the part of Palestinian women to carry out terrorist attacks, in view of the legitimacy given by Muslim religious leaders and the Palestinian terrorist organizations to the inclusion of women in the fight against Israel and in view of the sense that for the first time, they are able to participate in armed operations and not only in civil activism. During the funeral of Wafa Idris, a Palestinian woman, a resident of Tulkarm refugee camp, said that "this woman will not be the last; we will all booby-trap our bodies and blow ourselves up in the face of the Jews".

    Almost certainly the Palestinian terrorist organizations will continue to take advantage of the innocent appearance of women to carry out terrorist attacks, and thus, in essence, send them to their deaths.

     The Exploitation of Palestinian Women for Terrorism
    Blackmailing Young Women into Suicide Terrorism – Feb 12, 2003
    The Role of Palestinian Women in Suicide Terrorism – January 2003
    Abuse and Exploitation of Minors to Carry out Terrorist Attacks – April 2002
    Outbreak of Violence in Jerusalem and the Territories – Sept/Oct 2000