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June 4, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2372

Women and Children in the Service of Resistance

June 4, 2009
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 2372

Recently, photos of armed women and children have been circulated by terrorist organizations in Gaza - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees. Some of these organizations have also been training women to produce and handle weapons. On March 16, 2009, the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm reported on women joining the Palestinian armed resistance.

Following are excerpts from the report:

Islamic Jihad Women Produce Weapons, Undergo Military Training

"Palestinian women are joining armed resistance and Islamic organizations in Gaza. This is evident from special photos given to the [Egyptian daily] Al-Masri Al-Yawm, featuring a group of women belonging to the military arm of the Islamic Jihad, the Saraya Al-Quds women's unit. Jihad women have been producing weapons, mixing nitrogen to prepare simple bombs and assembling parts for Palestinian missiles.

"Iman Muhammad, a photographer for the Palestinian press, accompanied [these women] as they carried Kalashnikov [rifles] and handguns, filled magazines, and practiced shooting. She reported that following the Gaza war, some Palestinian factions had begun training women to produce and handle weapons, and were preparing to establish a women's military unit.

"Iman said that men are training their mothers, wives, and daughters, and added: 'Adhering to strict safety measures all along, I set out with two friends to take those photos, where women are seen for the first time loading their guns and practicing disassembling and assembling their weapons.'

"There Iman met Umm Muhammad and her daughter-in-law, who explained to her what they were doing and said that Islamic Jihad was not the only faction that engaged women in armed resistance.

"The barrage of Israeli attacks during the first days of the December 2008 [Gaza war] killed hundreds of policemen and fighters. The enemy invaded cities and residential areas and murdered civilians in their homes. As a result, several factions decided to train female family members - there being at least seven or eight women in every family - to teach them defensive fighting, in case the enemy once more invaded residential areas."

Islamic Jihad Woman Fighter: We Will Sacrifice Our Sons for the Sake of Palestine

"Iman does not believe that women will join the front line in the fighting: 'I cannot imagine women near the border, clad in Islamic uniform and launching missiles; however, training [women] to handle weapons is a qualitative change in the attitude towards women on the part of Islamic resistance.'

"Umm Muhammad told Iman: 'We will sacrifice our blood, our souls, and our sons for the sake of Palestine. We will create a military unit in our own special way.'

"'Women are strong, as has been proven by our actions.' [Umm Muhammad's] daughter-in-law, who was veiled, said: 'Training to make bombs and handle weapons is not hard. My husband and his mother are expert in this, and I am happy to do something for my homeland.'

"Iman: 'The camera did not bother them, but the presence of a woman photographer did.' Umm Muhammad: 'What is better - a Muslim woman fighter or a Muslim woman photographer?'"

Woman Fighter to Woman Journalist: If Something Explodes, You Will Die as a Martyr

"In a room is a pile of rifles and RPGs ready for launching. Umm Muhammad reassured the journalist: 'Nothing will explode, but if something does, you will die as a martyr.'

"Muhammad, who was training his mother and his wife, said that 'women fighters are a new phenomenon in Gaza, which is still surrounded by an aura of secrecy, for security reasons.' But, he said, 'it is important that the world know that women and children are working for the [Palestinian] cause.'"

In Gaza, a Woman Journalist Is Not Readily Accepted

"In a small room in an empty Gaza building stood Iman Muhammad, 23, holding a camera; before her, Umm Muhammad and her daughter-in-law made and handled weapons. Iman says that she wanted to take these photos a month previously, but that it took two weeks to organize this meeting, due to 'security requirements.'

"[In reality,] however, everything is much more complicated: Iman is the only woman photographer in Gaza, and obtaining this post was a difficult task. Gaza universities don't have photography departments, and Iman had to get her professional training with [news] agencies. She received advice from her male colleagues, but suffered greatly from attempts to restrict her movements and from lack of acceptance [as a woman photographer].

"In a telephone conversation with the daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Iman said: 'At first, I told them that photography was my hobby, in order to mislead them; otherwise, no one would have taught me a thing. I started taking pictures in 2005, at the age of 18. [In the beginning,] a news agency loaned me the equipment, but in 2006 I purchased my own equipment - a camera and some lenses. When I walk in the streets of Gaza today, I am no different from any other woman, except for the camera. I come from a conservative family and wear a veil, like all other women…'

"Iman studies journalism and communication at Gaza Islamic University, and works as a journalist and photographer. She says: 'In Gaza, ordinary people are more accepting than the educated, who occasionally taunt me with sarcastic remarks.'"


Women of the Palestinian resistance prepare explosives. [1]

On the Hamas Forum Website [2]: Photos of Children with Weapons


The infant above wears the headband of the Al-Nasser brigades, an armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. [3]


The child above wears the Hamas headband. [4]

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), March 16, 2009.

[2] www.paldf.net/forum.

[3] http://www.paldf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=380200, March 19, 2009.

[4] http://www.paldf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=386174, March 21, 2009

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