- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 23, 2006

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians, including a top militant commander, in raids in northern Gaza yesterday while a 57-year-old grandmother blew herself up near soldiers.

The army said soldiers spotted the woman approaching them with an explosive device near the Jabalya refugee camp and threw a stun grenade at her. The woman detonated the device, killing herself, the army said. Three soldiers were slightly wounded.

The Israeli operations took place a day after the government decided to press on with a five-month-old offensive in Gaza but not order a massive assault to curb an upsurge in Palestinian militant rocket strikes on the Jewish state.

The armed wing of the governing Hamas movement took responsibility for the attempted suicide bombing and identified the woman as Fatima al-Nejar.


Her family said she had nine children and nearly 30 grandchildren. She is the first known Palestinian grandmother to attempt a suicide bombing against Israelis.

“I’m very proud of what she did. Allahu akbar (God is great),” said one of her sons, Fuad, 31.

On a Hamas-released video, the woman read a statement saying she wanted to dedicate her death to Palestinians held in Israeli jails and to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

She wore a black suicide belt and had an M-16 assault rifle slung over her neck.

“I offer myself as a sacrifice to God and to the homeland,” she said.

An Israeli air strike on a car killed three militants from the Popular Resistance Committees, including Fayeq Abu Al-Qumsan, who was the militant group’s commander for northern Gaza, residents said. The PRC has been behind many of the recent rocket attacks on Israeli border towns.

Israeli soldiers also fought gunbattles with gunmen, witnesses said. Hospital officials said a 20-year-old civilian man was fatally shot by Israeli troops east of the town of Beit Lahiya. The army said it was checking the report.

Residents said troops backed by tanks earlier thrust into Beit Lahiya. Tanks firing machine guns stormed a housing project, killing a 19-year-old man, hospital officials said.

Israel said troops were operating around Beit Lahiya but denied forces were in densely populated areas. Four Israeli soldiers were wounded by anti-tank missiles, the army said.

Residents said the incursion into Beit Lahiya was one of the biggest since Israel launched its offensive in late June after gunmen, including Hamas members, abducted a soldier in a cross-border raid from Gaza.

The objective was then broadened to target rocket-launching squads, which have killed two Israelis in the past week. Militants said the rockets are a response to army assaults.

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