01/14/2004, 00.00
israel - palestine
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Woman, mother of two, is suicide bomber in Erez

Gaza (AsiaNews) –  This morning at 10 a.m. local time a 21 year-old Palestinian woman, Rim Saleh Al-Riashi, exploded a suicide bomb, killing herself at the Erez Crossing connecting the Gaza strip to Israel.   

The woman was the mother of 2 small children, of 3 years and 18 months of age.

The attack also cost the lives of 3 Israeli soldiers and 1 civilian, while gravely wounding at least 10 people. Hospital sources in Israel say that 2 Palestinians were wounded as well. The attack was claimed by the Hamas integralist group in cooperation with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade from Fatah.   

This was the first Hamas attack since a tacit agreement was reached last Sept. 9. The truce was sought by Palestinian premier, Ahmad Qorei, and was supposed to facilitate the growth of an inter-Palestinian consensus for a ceasefire with Israel.

Israel had abstained from hunting down Hamas leaders, until last Dec. 25 when Mukaled Hamid, 40, was killed in Gaza.  Hamid was one of the heads of the Saraya Al-Qods, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement  

Sources close to Hamas say that today's attack is a retaliation for his killing.

Hamas leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, said that the suicide attack "is the first one made by a woman member of the movement" and should be considered "an improvement in quality for the Ezzedine Al-Qassam brigade forces", the movement's militant division. He added that "this operation confirms that all groups are ready to cooperate in fighting against the enemy. Enemy resistance will escalate, until they leave our land."   

David Baker, of the Israeli Prime Ministry Office, said the following about the episode: "Palestinian terrorism is directed not only against Israel, but also against the economy."

The Erez Crossing, which nearly borders Israel, is home to several barracks of Israeli soldiers and a string of Israeli owned factories in which thousands of Palestinians work. Around 2000 Palestinian employees were stuck there, as the passage was closed for security reasons. (PB)

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