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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 16:05 GMT
Female bomber's mother speaks out
Wafa Idris
Wafa Idris was a 28-year-old divorced paramedic
The mother of the first female Palestinian suicide bomber has said she is proud of her daughter and hopes more women will follow her example.

Body parts found at the scene suggested that an attack on Sunday, which killed an 81-year-old Israeli man and left more than 100 injured, was the first of its kind by a woman.

But confirmation of the bomber's identity did not come until Wednesday, when relatives identified her as Wafa Idris, a 28-year-old divorced paramedic.

She was happy when martyrdom attacks were carried out against the Israelis and told me she wished she would one day carry out such an attack

Manal Shaheen, Relative of Wafa Idris
The al-Aqsa Brigades militant faction, part of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, also published a leaflet saying she had carried out the bombing in response to Israeli military actions.

Wafa's tearful mother, Wasfiyeh, described her only daughter as a martyr, as she was consoled by relatives at their home in Amari Refugee Camp near Ramallah.

She told the BBC she did not know what turned her daughter into a bomber.

'Daughter of Palestine'

"Maybe it was because of all the wounded people she saw in the ambulances. She wanted to help her people. She was a daughter of Palestine," she said.

Wasfiyeh, Wafa Idris's mother
Ms Idris's mother described her daughter as a martyr
Mrs Idris said Wafa was not a known activist with any Palestinian militant group, although her three brothers are Fatah members.

She said she had suspected nothing when her daughter, who had been shot several times by Israeli rubber bullets during her work for the Red Crescent, rushed from home on Sunday morning saying she would be late for work.

"When I heard in the media that a woman may have been behind the bombing in Jerusalem and she didn't show up, I believed this could be the only explanation for her absence," Wasfiyeh told the Reuters news agency.

Ms Idris's sister-in-law said Wafa, whose father died when she was a child, had become withdrawn and morose in the weeks preceding the attack.


The paramedic was angered by seeing children shot and killed during confrontations in Ramallah, she said.

"She was happy when martyrdom attacks were carried out against the Israelis and told me she wished she would one day carry out such an attack," another relative, Manal Shaheen, said.

Bomb attack in west Jerusalem on Sunday
An 81-year-old Israeli was killed in Sunday's attack
It is still not clear, however, whether Ms Idris blew herself up intentionally, or whether explosives she was carrying detonated accidentally.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Ramallah says that Wafa Idris is already a heroine on the streets of the refugee camp where she lived.

One woman from the Amari camp, a pregnant mother of three, told the BBC she would carry out a similar operation if she was given the opportunity.

Wafa Idris's notoriety is also spreading rapidly: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has called for a memorial in her honour to be built in one of Baghdad's main squares, according to reports in Iraqi newspapers on Wednesday.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"No-one is certain why she did it"
See also:

28 Jan 02 | Middle East
First Palestinian woman suicide bomber?
29 Jan 02 | Middle East
Mystery over female 'suicide bomber'
28 Jan 02 | Middle East
Hit-and-run Palestinian shot dead
30 Jan 02 | Middle East
Israeli agents hit by suicide bomber
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