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Chilling pledges in Gaza as Hamas buries woman suicide bomber (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) GAZA CITY 01/15/04) Source: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1515&ncid=1515&e=9&u=/afp/20040115/wl_mideast_afp/mideast_palestinian_040115192209
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GAZA CITY (AFP) - Hamas´s first woman suicide bomber, a young Palestinian mother of two, was buried with a chilling pledge from her hardline Islamic group that she would not be their last female "martyr".
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However, Palestinians had mixed feelings about the path chosen by the 22-year-old mother, Reem Saleh al-Riyashi, who killed herself and four Israeli security men at the Erez crossing point on Wednesday.
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Riyachi was buried in a small cemetery in Gaza City´s Sheikh Ejleen district.
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About 2,000 people, ironically all men in line with Islamic tradition, took part in her funeral, which started with prayers at the city´s largest mosque.
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A political leader from Hamas told mourners at the mosque that there would be more like Riyashi.
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"The martyr Reem is a heroine since she gave up everything. This was a young married woman who left behind a husband and children to go to paradise," Mahmud Zahar said.
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"She won´t be our people´s last.
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"Hamas will not renounce the path of jihad or resistance and freedom, even at the cost of sacrificing our sons and our wives," he said.
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Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin had confirmed Wednesday that the operation was the first to be carried out by a female follower of his group.
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"The fact that a woman took part for the first time in a Hamas operation marks a significant evolution for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades," the group´s armed wing, Yassin said.
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Riyashi had lied to Israeli security guards at Erez, the main passage between Gaza and Israel, that she had a metal plate in her leg that would set off detector alarms.
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She the detonated an explosives belt in an inspection room, killing two soldiers, a border guard and a private security guard, as well as wounding several others.
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Her attack was claimed jointly by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, of which she was a member, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a radical offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat´s Fatah organization.
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Dozens of fighters from the two groups wearing combat fatigues and carrying automatic weapons led her funeral cortege, illustrating the growing cooperation between their ranks.
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Before Riyashi, five other Palestinian women carried out suicide attacks. Another two dozen would-be female bombers have been arrested and are now in Israeli jails.
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But Riyashi is the only one of any of them to have had children, a girl of three and a boy of 18 months.
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As the funeral took place, the suicide bombing was hotly debated around Gaza, the densely-populated stretch of land between Israel and Egypt where Riyashi said Israel´s strict military occupation made life intolerable, and on some local radio stations.
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At Al-Azhar University, 20-year-old student Amani said she and most other students were "against the bombing because she had children."
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"There are other women who have carried out attacks, but we haven´t spoken about them like this," said Amani, wearing a conservative white headscarf and long black "thoub" tunic.
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Others disagreed.
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"It is not a question of being a mother or a father. Everyone wants to do as she did," a man in his 40s who called himself Abu Bader said at the cemetery as Riyashi´s remains were being lowered into the ground. (Copyright © 2004 Agence France Presse. 01/15/04)
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