A failed Palestinian suicide bomber released in a prisoner swap with Israel said Wednesday she has told well-wishers, including children from the neighborhood, that Palestinians must continue "on the path of struggle and resistance."
Wafa al-Biss, 26, was among 477 Palestinians released by Israel in exchange for Sgt. Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who had been held by Hamas-allied militants in Gaza for more than five years.
Al-Biss was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to 12 years after trying to detonate explosives strapped to her body as she approached Gaza's Erez crossing into Israel. At the time, al-Biss had been given a permit by Israel to leave Gaza for treatment at an Israeli hospital for burns she sustained in an accident in her home in Gaza's Jebaliya refugee camp.
"I was about to push the button to become a martyr," al-Biss said in a telephone interview, recalling the day of her failed attack. "An error prevented me from doing so."
She said prison was difficult, but that it "did not kill my feeling that martyrs and martyrdom are a humble thing to offer as a sacrifice for the homeland."
"We shall continue on this path of struggle and resistance and martyrdom, and this is what I told my comrades in the cell and this is what I told the children and this is what I am going to keep telling anyone who will ask me about my feelings," she said.
She said Israel's harsh crackdown on Palestinians during their second uprising, especially the killing of civilians, had driven her to carry out an attack. She made no mention of returning to violence, saying she planned to enroll in a university and get treatment for her burns.
Like al-Biss, other released prisoners have also said they have no remorse. Among those freed were more than 280 who had been sentenced to life terms for attacks that killed several hundred Israelis.
In the debate over the swap, opponents in Israel warned that the released prisoners could unleash a new wave of violence. However, the vast majority of the released prisoners were sent to Gaza, tightly sealed by Israel, or into exile. In the West Bank, the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have clamped down on militants in recent years.