Note: This article is from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
(by Adrian Blomfield in Gaza City and Richard Spencer in Mitzpe Hila) – An unsuccessful suicide bomber released from prison as part of the deal to free [Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit vowed on Wednesday to fulfill a childhood ambition by “sacrificing” her life for the Palestinian cause.
As she returned to her family home in northern Gaza, Wafa al-Bis insisted she would seize any opportunity to mount another suicide mission and encouraged dozens of cheering schoolchildren to follow her example.
Bis was one of hundreds of Palestinian militants freed by Israel on Tuesday in the first phase of a prisoner swap agreed with Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist overlords, to win the freedom of Sgt Maj Shalit after five years in solitary confinement.
Her words will chill critics of the deal who argue that many of the 1,027 Palestinians who are to be released from prison will return to violence once they have been freed. For most Israelis, such fears have been consigned to the future as an anxious nation watched to see how the 25-year-old [soldier] was faring on his first full day at home in Mitzpe Hila, his home village in the hills above the Sea of Galilee.
They were given a brief glimpse as he took his first stroll, supported by his mother and wearing dark glasses against the unaccustomed sunlight.
In the coming days and weeks, he is expected to be debriefed on his captivity by both military intelligence and the secret service, Mossad. But military officials say they want to leave him to recover his health with his family first, and will be guided by his medical condition. …
In contrast to the private reunion under way in northern Galilee, the scene in Gaza remained festive as freed Palestinian captives greeted relations and well-wishers at tented receptions.
But few were as outspoken as the would-be suicide bomber. Bis was just 21 when, in 2005, she volunteered to undertake a suicide mission in Israel.
Her target, Israel says, was a hospital where she had been given permission to seek treatment for burns she sustained in a gas tank explosion. She never got there. Stopped by suspicious Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on Gaza’s border, she was discovered with 22lb of explosives sewn into a belt inside her underwear. Bis tried to blow herself up but the detonator malfunctioned.
Speaking in her bedroom, the shelves of which were lined with [stuffed animals], Bis yesterday maintained that the six years she spent in an Israeli prison cell had left her with no regrets other than her failure to kill herself and her captors, although she insisted that her target was only ever going to be a military one.
“I wanted to be the first female martyr from Gaza to kill Israeli soldiers and I wanted to kill as many as I could,” she said. “I had wanted to be a martyr since I was a kid. I regard what I did as an honorable thing. It was my dream to be a martyr but [Allah] didn’t let me.”
If given the opportunity, she added, she would fulfill her destiny to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children [she says were] killed by Israeli forces. “As long as there is going to be occupation over all of Palestine, martyrs will be there to resist and to fight, and I will be among the first of the strugglers,” she said. “This is an honorable thing and I would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could.”
Bis’s mother Salma said she had no idea of her daughter’s mission — but added that she felt she had no choice but to encourage her in her chosen course of life. “This is Jihad, it is an honorable thing and I am proud of her,” she said. …..
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1. From what age, and for how long, was Wafa al-Bis in an Israeli prison?
2. Why was Wafa imprisoned? Be specific.
3. Wafa al-Bis is part of the 1,000+ Palestinian prisoners released by Israel in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held by Hamas terrorists for 5 years. What does she say now about her attempt at Jihad, and of her future plans? Be specific.
4. What did Wafa’s mother have to say about her daughter’s attempt at Jihad?
5. What types of actions are honorable to you and your family?
6. In a 2005 BBC article, after Wafa al-Bis was arrested for attempting to detonate a bomb she had sewn into her clothes, she said that her “dream was to be a martyr.” [Photo on right: Wafa al-Bis upon her arrest in 2005.] She said she was recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (an off-shoot of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction) and that she had been angry over allegations that Israeli guards had ripped out pages of the Koran at a prison in northern Israel, claims Israel denies. “What angered me and the Palestinian people is the abuse of the Koran,” she said. “Should we sit in silence with our hands tied?”
However, in a separate interview with foreign correspondents, Ms. Bis said the explosives had been planted on her without her knowledge while she was being treated at a Gaza Hospital. “I did not intend to carry out an attack,” she said.
Why do you think Ms. al-Bis lied to foreign correspondents about her attempted suicide bombing?
7. a) Critics of Israel’s decision to release over 1,000 Palestinians (many jailed for terrorist activities and/or murders) argued that many of those released would return to violence once they were freed. Do you think Wafa al-Bis is just an isolated case? Explain your answer.
b) Right after Gilad Schalit was seized by Hamas terrorists in Israel, the Israeli government imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and tightened it after Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007. Palestinian supporters say that since Gilad has been released, Israel should lift the blockade. How do you think the Israeli government should respond for calls to end the blockade? Be specific.
c) How do you think the Israeli government should respond to Wafa al-Bis’ vow to attempt another suicide mission against Israelis in the future?