Female suicide bomber nabbed at Erez
The Shin Bet and Israel Defense Forces foiled a suicide bombing yesterday by apprehending a Palestinian woman who tried to enter Israel with explosives.
The woman, 21, was stopped at the Erez border crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip with close to 10 kilograms of explosives in her underwear.
She was sent by Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades activists to blow herself up at the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, she said during her interrogation.
She had an entry permit to Israel for medical treatment. IDF sources said yesterday that Israel would now have to impose even stricter measures in examining Palestinians entering the country for medical treatment.
The Shin Bet received a tip that Fatah was planning to send Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, of the Jabalya refugee camp, on a suicide mission via one of the Gaza Strip crossings. Israel gave the Palestinian Authority and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas detailed information of the plan, Shin Bet sources said, but the PA did nothing.
The Erez checkpoint was closed for a few hours on Friday, due to the terrorist alerts. It was reopened yesterday, but the soldiers and guards were put on high alert.
When Al-Biss arrived at the border crossing before noon, she immediately aroused suspicion. The security guards took her to an isolated room and demanded she identify herself and take her pants off. The tapes from the security cameras show Al-Biss insisting she had no weapons, and that she had a right to enter Israel, because she had a permit.
Realizing she had been discovered, Al-Biss apparently tried to blow herself up, but failed to detonate the bomb. She later removed the explosive device and sappers blew it up.
In December 2004, Al-Biss suffered severe burns when a gas canister blew up in her Jabalya home. She was permitted to go to Soroka for medical treatment, and has since entered Israel a number of times. Yesterday she was due for a checkup at the hospital. The Shin Bet said her operators gave her the pants with the explosives yesterday morning, and instructed her to blow herself up in the hospital, in a "noisy, crowded place."
Colonel Avi Levy, the North Gaza brigade commander, said the suicide attempt was "a cynical exploitation of the humanitarian gestures Israel had made." The technological examination means at the border crossing and the soldiers' professional standards prevented the bombing.
The head of the civil administration in the Gaza Strip, Colonel Yoav Mordechai, said "the Palestinians are shooting themselves in the foot. We will have to enforce more stringent measures at roadblocks."
Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) yesterday denounced the suicide bombing attempt and urged the PA to condemn using sick people for violent ends. PHRI said the Geneva Convention binds all parties to avoid harming patients and attacking hospitals. The doctors reminded Israel that "a sweeping toughening of regulations toward all the patients constitutes collective punishment, which endangers the lives of many and is therefore prohibited."