The videos released by Hamas showcasing the freed hostages raised questions about the role of women who appeared in the ranks of the Al-Qassam Brigades. While these women in Hamas may not be terrorists or part of the military force, the terror organization utilizes their presence to deflect allegations of sexual violence. Their role extends to providing support in the rear and facilitating the transfer of captive women to the Red Cross.
Following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas declared the establishment of several units composed of women participating for the first time in the armed activities of the terror organization.
The Palestinian magazine "Al-Resala," affiliated with Hamas, published an interview in 2005 with activists in these new units at their training headquarters in Gaza. There, they acquired skills including the use of weapons and hand grenades, live ammunition shooting, training in handling explosive devices and launching rockets and missiles.
The leader of the female Qassam unit, who was interviewed anonymously, stated that their activity is "a unit of women affiliated with the military arm of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades." She emphasized that "being part of the brigade, to which they joined with the knowledge and encouragement of their husbands and fathers, does not hinder them from fulfilling their household duties."
In the newspaper article, it was noted that the members of this unit are currently limited to the wives and daughters of Al-Qassam activists.
About a year before the inauguration of the unit in January 2004, Reem al-Rayashi committed a suicide bombing at the Erez checkpoint, intended for transporting Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. The suicide bomber, wearing a deceptive smile, informed the checkpoint security that she had a metal plate in her leg, which would likely trigger the metal detector alarm. Consequently, a female soldier was dispatched to inspect al-Rayashi.
While waiting for the female soldier, the female terrorist managed to slip into the inspection hall, where she detonated the concealed explosive device. The terror attack resulted in the death of four Israelis and injuries to 10 individuals, including four Palestinians. Al-Rayashi was the first member of Hamas to carry out a terror attack against Israeli forces. At the time, she was 22 years old, and a mother of two, one of them a toddler.