January 20, 2004.
JERUSALEM — A Palestinian mother of two small children, who killed four
Israelis by blowing herself up at a border crossing, carried out the suicide
bombing to atone for having committed adultery.
The attack last week marked the first time the militant group Hamas had used a
female bomber, part of an evolving belief that women who are disgraced by
sexual activity outside marriage can “purify” themselves by becoming
“martyrs,” Israeli security officials said.
The officials, who closely monitor the evolving ideology of the Islamic
militant organization, spoke to reporters in the wake of Wednesday’s attack by
22-year-old Reem Raiyshi.
Raiyshi left her 18-month-old daughter, Doha, and her 3-year-old son, Obedia,
and blew herself up at the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel,
killing three soldiers and a private Israeli security guard.
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot first reported that the woman was
compelled to carry out the attack as atonement for betraying her husband with
According to the report, based on Israeli military sources, Raiyshi’s
husband is a Hamas operative who urged her to carry out the suicide mission.
The Associated Press, citing Israeli security officials, reported yesterday that
Raiyshi was an adulteress forced to carry out the attack to restore her family’s
It is not uncommon for Palestinian women accused of adultery, or of
having sex before marriage, to be killed by their families trying to rid themselves
of perceived disgrace.
The officials told AP on condition of anonymity that Raiyshi’s illicit lover
recruited her, giving her the suicide bomb belt. Palestinian security officials said
her husband drove her to Erez to carry out the attack.
After the bombing, Raiyshi’s family refused to speak to reporters, a rarity in
these cases, and did not set up a mourning tent for her.
Her brother-in-law, Yousef Awad, said the bomber and her husband had
had a huge argument with the family two months ago and had not been seen
since. He refused to elaborate.
Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin told reporters in the Gaza Strip
yesterday that the militant group would look to women to step up and fulfill
their “obligations.” He suggested male bombers were increasingly being held
back by Israeli security measures.
Hamas had in the past referred women volunteering for suicide missions to
other organizations like Islamic Jihad.
Recently, however, the Hamas leadership has come to support such use
in the case of women who have “desecrated family honor.”
According to Israeli television’s Channel Two, a new theology is emerging
about female suicide bombers among some Palestinian Muslim clerics.
Male “martyrs” who blow themselves up in suicide attacks are already promised
a place in paradise alongside 72 dark-eyed virgins.
According to Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari, the women are promised
to dwell forever alongside the husband or fiance they have left behind.
How Hamas turned adulteress into suicide bomber
By Alex Fishman, Yediot Ahronot, January 18, 2004.
Military sources claim that the terrorist Reem Al-Reyashi, who blew up four
days ago are the Erez Crossing and killed four Israelis, was forced to carry out
the suicide attack – as punishment for cheating on her husband.
A few hours after the suicide attack the Hamas published the will of the 22
year old mother who became a terrorist. With a broad smile on her face and a
rifle in her hands Al-Reyashi read her shocking desire:
“I always wanted to be the first woman who sacrifices her life for Allah.
My joy will be complete when parts of my body fly in all directions.”
But information that reached Israel regarding the situation that lead Al-Reyashi
to carry out the attack raises a completely different picture.
According to this information this is not a cold blooded terrorist, steeped
in faith and madness, who chose out of free will to turn her two young children
into orphans – but instead a woman who was forced to carry out the act.
According to military sources, the terrorist paid a cruel price for being involved
in an illicit love affair and was forced to sacrifice herself in order to clear her
name and the honor of her family.
IDF sources said that already at the beginning of the investigation it
turned out that Al-Reyashi’s husband, an activist in the Hamas organization, not
only knew about his wife’s plans in advance – but even encouraged her to carry
out the suicide attack. This even though he knew that with his wife’s death he
would be left to raise their two small children alone.
Another thing turned up from the investigation: the person who was chosen to
recruit the 22 year old Al-Reyashi to carry out the suicide attack and equipped
her with the explosive belt was none other than the lover with whom she
cheated on her husband.
The British Sunday Times reports in this morning’s edition that the
husband even drove his wife to the Erez Crossing.
In contrast to previous female suicide bombers, Reem Al-Reyashi had no family
member who had been hurt in the course of the Intifada. She is the daughter of
one of the established families in Gaza. Her father was the owner of a large
factory for the production of batteries in Gaza that markets most of its
production in Israel. The IDF refuses to believe reports that the family of the
suicide bomber was shocked to discover what she had done.
This morning the entrance of workers from the Gaza Strip to Israel will be
renewed – but the security demands will be stricter. From now on workers will
not be allowed to enter Israel with bags or satchels – including bags containing
food. Workers who wear shoes with heels will be barred entrance.
They will also be barred from bringing back things from Israel when they return.
The investigation of the attack over the weekend finds that the suicide bomber
tried to enter the Israeli side of the Erez Crossing twice. When she passed the
first time the metal detectors sounded an alarm and Al-Reyashi was asked to
leave. After a short time she joined a group of female workers and returned, but
the metal detector sounded an alarm again.
The terrorist was asked to remove her jewelry but even after she did that the
electronic detector continued to sound an alarm. The terrorist was only allowed
to enter after she burst into tars and begged to be allowed to pass.