Women vow attacks inside Israel

Palestinian women form a female martyrs group.

Published July 11, 2006 3:09PM (EDT)

In the midst of escalating violence in Gaza, a group proclaiming itself a "feminist military branch" of the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has formed. The group held a televised press conference on Monday at which spokeswoman Um El-Abed (a nom de guerre) announced that 100 women have been recruited from the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and that they intend to carry out attacks within Israel. Um El-Abed explained that the planned attacks are in response to the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza, during which Israel has destroyed a huge amount of civilian infrastructure. Israel has claimed that its attacks are retaliation for the June 25 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by the military branch of Hamas.

As far as what's "feminist" about the group, it's tough to tell from the few available reports about the news conference, but presumably, the self-description has to do with the idea that women can and will participate just as fully in violent conflict as their male counterparts. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, seven Palestinian women have carried out suicide bombings since September 2000, killing 37 people and wounding 250 others. According to Al-Jazeera, the new female squad of Al-Aqsa is a "first for the Palestinian factions." Just so you can add an entry to your personal column of strides we wish women weren't making.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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