Israeli paratroopers arrested 19-year-old Najwa Hashash in the Nablus refugee camp of Balata on Monday night following suspicions that she intended to carry out a suicide bombing.
For three weeks now rumors have circulated the refugee camp regarding her intentions and Hashash was even taken in for questioning by Palestinian security forces but was released several hours later. On Monday, she was arrested by the IDF and military sources say that she is currently being questioned for her involvement in a planned attack.
Residents of Balata said on Tuesday that Najwa was unhappy after she recently married a man with a serious illness and sought to end her life.
Palestinian sources estimated that it was Najwa's despair that drove her to agree to become a suicide bomber. Some in the refugee camp even said that Hashash spread the rumors herself in the hopes that she would be arrested.
But another report asserted that a recruiter for the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades took advantage of the situation and persuaded Najwa to carry out the bombing. Al-Aqsa denied any involvement with the young woman.
Najwa was arrested along with 25 additional terror suspects from various organizations throughout the West Bank, six from Nablus.
Military sources stressed that Najwa was not at a stage where was considered a ticking bomb but that she was brought in for questioning regarding her involvement in possible future attacks.
Increasing number of women involved in terror
IDF officials said that Hashash's arrest illustrated the growing trend of Palestinian women taking part in terror activities. Two out of five of suicide bombings in 2006 were carried out by women.
In November 2006, Jabalya resident Marvat Masud, who was affiliated with the Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades, blew herself up near IDF soldiers operating in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. One soldier was lightly injured in the incident and the terrorist was killed.
In another suicide bombing that month, 57-year-old Fatma Najar, who was affiliated with Hamas, blew herself up near IDF soldiers operating in the Jabalya area in the northern Gaza Strip. Three troops were lightly injured in the incident.
In 2006, IDF and Shin Bet forces arrested 19 Palestinian women on suspicion of being involved in terror activities against Israel. Nine of the women were Islamic Jihad members and the rest were affiliated with Fatah.
Security forces noted that it was clear Palestinian women continued their involvement in terror in 2007, agreeing to carry out terror attacks, including kidnappings and stabbing attacks. In addition, many women serve as messengers, transferring funds to terror groups.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report