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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 07:40 GMT 08:40 UK
Palestinian 'targeted hospital'
Wafa al-Bis
Wafa al-Bis was shown being interviewed on Israeli TV
Israel says a 21-year-old Palestinian woman arrested carrying explosives at a Gaza checkpoint planned to blow herself up in an Israeli hospital.

Wafa al-Bis was stopped on her way on her way to Beersheba hospital where she was to receive treatment for burns.

Ms Bis said on Israeli TV she wanted to be a suicide bomber but then later told foreign journalists the explosives were planted on her without her knowledge.

The incident comes amid a rise in violence despite a four-month truce.

The Israeli military said Ms Bis was stopped by suspicious soldiers at the Erez crossing point between Gaza and Israel.

The army said she had tried to blow herself up there but the explosives did not detonate.

Humanitarian case

Israeli officials said Ms Bis, who comes from the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, was burnt in a cooking accident five months ago, and had received treatment on humanitarian grounds in the Beersheba hospital.

They said she was making another trip for follow-up treatment on Monday, but planned to blow herself up instead.

In an interview shown on Israeli television, Ms Bis said her "dream was to be a martyr".

She said she was recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - an off-shoot of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.

Ms Bis also said she had been angry over allegations that Israeli guards had ripped out pages of the Koran at a prison in northern Israel, claims Israel denies.

"What angered me and the Palestinian people is the abuse of the Koran," she said. "Should we sit in silence with our hands tied?"

Later, she pleaded for mercy because she "didn't kill anyone".

In a separate interview with foreign correspondents, she said the explosives had been planted on her without her knowledge while she was being treated at a Gaza Hospital.

"I did not intend to carry out an attack," she said, at which point Israeli security officials told reporters she was lying, the Associated Press reported.

Israeli military spokeswoman Maj Sharon Feingold accused Palestinian militants of exploiting humanitarian cases for their own ends.

"These terror organisations are not only the enemies of the Israelis but also of the Palestinian people themselves, who suffer as a result of this abuse of the young, the sick, the wounded," she said.

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