Suicide Mother’s Disappearing Crutches

15 January: Every war has its own life-and-death-stories, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no exception. On Wednesday, January 14, 22-year-old Reem Al-Reyashi, a mother of two, blew herself up at the Erez Crossing from the Gaza Strip to Israel, murdering four Israelis and injuring ten.
She left behind the grieving families of 1st Sgt Tsur Or, 20, from Rishon Lezion, Corp. Andrey Kegles, 19, from Nahariya and Border Guard 1st Sgt. Vladimir Trostinsky, 22, from Rehovot, and Gal Shapira, 29, from Ashkelon.
Meanwhile, many thousands of Gazans are prevented from reaching their much needed jobs in Israel. The crossing has been closed to men and goods until further notice.
The suicide-killer’s own death was succeeded hours later by a stream of wild rumors that ran round the Gaza Strip. debkafile‘s Palestinian and counter-terror sources have obtained a rare glimpse into the life and human background of the first Hamas female suicide bomber.
One of the stories Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and the suicide bomber’s husband Ziyad Awad put about is that Reem hobbled up to the Erez terminal on crutches and so fooled the Israeli security officials into taking pity on her as a cripple. In Israeli accounts of the bombing, no crutches were mentioned, only a metal plate which the dead woman claimed was planted in her leg and accounted for the scanner’s beeps.
So what happened to the crutches?
Reem may have thrown them away after coming up with what she thought was a better cover story – the metal plate. Or else, the crutches might have contained the explosives she detonated and were pulverized in the blast. A third scenario: There were no crutches, and a fourth, the Israeli account omitted them for their own reasons.
The most poignant account current among Palestinian circles acquainted with the couple was that Awad, after three-and-a-half years of marriage, wanted to get rid of his wife and encouraged her to set off on her mission of no-return. Reem came from one of the richest families in the Gaza Strip, owners of the biggest car battery factory in the region. Her husband had a better and safer life than most people in the impoverished Gaza Strip, even without her. According to this rumor, Reem more than once confided to him her wish to “martyr” herself and go to heaven – not so much because she courted death but rather because she secretly hoped her husband would beg her not to leave him and their two small children aged three and one-and-a-half.
But she miscalculated.
Instead, Awad actively encouraged her to go ahead with her plan, assuring her that God wanted her in heaven where they would later be reunited. Meanwhile, he would look after the children. At least, that’s what he told the small company of Gazans who came to offer condolences at the mourners’ tent he erected at their home in southern Gaza. He confessed he was only surprised that his wife had embarked on her sacred mission so soon. After all, Awad said, she had never mentioned any dates or times. Visitors came away with the impression that he had known nothing of the training his wife went through before the bombing, further evidence of how little interest Reem’s husband took in her when she was alive.
Awad did not seem too surprised at the dearth of condolers. But her Hamas controllers were shocked. According to debkafile‘s Palestinian sources, Hamas leaders had banked on the group’s first woman suicide bomber in Gaza firing the Palestinians’ imagination and inspiring large numbers to follow in her footsteps. Six female suicide bombers have so far performed terrorist missions on behalf of fellow terrorist groups Fatah-Tanzim and others, accounting for the deaths of 39 Israelis. All six had problematical lives.
Gazans, however, refrained from demonstrating support or sympathy for her mission, remaining cool even after the lavish praise heaped on the bomber by Sheikh Yassin.
It was a double blow for the extremist Islamic group whose aim it had been to demonstrate that its operations against Israel could not be stopped by the strongest Israeli barriers or security measures. As it turned out, Reem only managed to reach the screening facility at the Erez Crossing before she blew up. She did not make it all the way through the checkpoint as Yassin and his men had hoped.
Four Israelis were murdered because one Palestinian woman feared her husband no longer wanted her and because a wheelchair-bound Islamic cleric, already responsible for hundreds of Israeli deaths, taught her how to walk on crutches…to heaven.

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