The Hamas movement has recently established women's units as part of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, its armed wing. In an interview with the Hamas weekly Al-Risala, the commander of the first of the units said that the women were training with light weapons and "yearned for martyrdom."
The following are excerpts from the interview with the commander of the women's unit of Hamas's military wing, and photos of members in full Islamic dress training with light and heavy arms. 
"There Is Only One Goal: Jihad and Resistance until the Lands Are Liberated"
Q: "To begin with, we would like to know who you are."
A: "We are a women's unit of Hamas' armed wing, the Martyr Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades."
Q: "Why did you join the Al-Qassam Brigades and not one of the other armed groups?"
A: "Because the Al-Qassam Brigades are considered the standard-bearers and the pioneers of jihad. We have abandoned all paths save that of Hamas and its armed wing – the Al-Qassam Brigades."
Q: "Did someone ask you to operate as part of the Brigades, or was it your request?"
A: "Nobody asked us to operate as part of the Brigades. We simply love jihad and its path…"
Q: "What was your aim in joining the military organization?"
A: "There was only one single aim: jihad and resistance until the lands are liberated."
Q: "Wouldn't it be better for you to deal with educating and developing the [next] generation..."
A: "It's all one path. We raise our children and perform our domestic duties, the duty of encouraging devotion to religion, as well as the other everyday duties, and the epitome of them is jihad for the sake of Allah. Jihad is a duty that every Muslim is required to fulfill if he can. Our joining the military organization is one of the essential everyday tasks."
"The Members of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Women's Units are Training with Light Weapons"
Q: "We understand that you are competing with the men in the battlefield."
A: "It is an honor for us to compete with the men, even if their role is more advanced. They are the men in the [battle]field, courageous, and men of sacrifice, but we are trying to relieve [them] of some of the burden. Behind every man is a woman who strengthens his hands."
Q: "How do you manage to combine membership in a military unit, educating [your] children, and taking care of [your] husbands and your households?"
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A: "That's something completely normal. We manage our time and know our duties, like every working woman..."
Q: "Do you do weapons training and activities?"
A: "We do a moderate level of light weapons training."
Q: "Do your husbands know that you are members of military units, and do they encourage you, or is it the opposite?"
A: "Yes, our husbands know. They encourage us, and we [women] encourage one another."
The Units' Members Yearn for Martyrdom
Q: "What do you think about women who carried out martyrdom operations, like the martyr Reem Al-Riyashi, who belonged to the Al-Qassam Brigades?"
A: "The martyr Reem Al-Riyashi is like a crown on our heads and a pioneer of the resistance. Nobody can fathom the magnitude of her sacrifice."
Q: "Do you hope to be like Reem Al-Riyashi?"
A: "By the name of Allah, we hope to become like her at once."
Q: "What do women like you tell your children?"
A: "Our message is to educate them to jihad, which is a sacred duty which cannot be neglected..."
Q: "What do you think about Palestinian women's role in the Al-Aqsa Intifada?"
A: "Their role is very important and is no less important than that of the man. The woman is the fighter's wife and sister. She carried the difficult burden of making a living and educating the children to jihad."
Q: "Are your activities limited to intelligence and support? We've seen Hamas women prisoners who guided the martyrs, like Tamam Al-Tamimi.Is that your only field of activity?"
A: "The armed activities are not [limited to] guiding [bombers] or shooting. There are many kinds of jihad and resistance."
Israel's Fleeing from the Settlements is a Result of the Resistance
Q: "What do you have to say to Arab and Muslim women in the wake of the defeat of the Zionist enemy in Gaza?"
A: "Today we are reaping the fruits of the resistance in the hope that there will be further steps, leading to the liberation of all Palestine… [The Palestinian] victory and [Israel's] fleeing the settlements are a result of the painful blows [they suffered] from the resistance."
Q: "What message would you, as women [serving] in military units, like to send to the occupation and to the wives of soldiers who have killed our people?"
A: "The Zionist rulers who talked about the Greater Land of Israel need to learn the lesson that the resistance and its heroic men taught them. Today they are progressively losing their resources. We don't have any desire to kill them so long as they leave the lands that they stole from us. These are our rights and we want to obtain them. If they don't want to go of their own will, they will be defeated and [all that will be left of them] will be the remains of corpses."
Q: "What is your final message?"
A: "Oh sons of the resisting Palestinian people, who defeated the Zionist enemy and humiliated them and made their heads bowed, keep the faith and preserve the victory so that it won't go to waste. This is a victory that we achieved through sacrifice."
Q: "Are you the mother of a martyr or a prisoner? If so, what do you [think when you] see the occupation getting out of there now, with your son having carried out an action against one of the settlements which the occupation is leaving?"
A: "Yes, I have sons who are martyrs, a son who's a prisoner, and sons who were wounded, but all that is of little account [when it is] for the sake of Allah. Thank God, I don't have any regrets and I can take the suffering of these losses. I am very happy that I offered up [a sacrifice] and reaped the fruits. My son's blood was not spilled in vain, and my [other] son's imprisonment is not for naught. The resistance yielded a ripe fruit. This historic turning point is a prologue to the great victory and the re-conquest of the rest of the lands."
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Al-Risala (Gaza), August 18, 2005. The photos were also posted on a Hamas-affiliated website at
Reem Al-Riyashi, the mother of two young children, carried out the January 2004 suicide attack at the Erez crossing in Gaza.
Al-Tamimi was the guide of Izz Al-Din Al-Masri, the suicide bomber who carried out the August 2001 attack at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem.