On April 20, 2014, the Gazan e-daily Dunya Al-Watan (alwatanvoice.com) posted an article by journalist Muhammad Mahmoud ‘Awad on the establishment of a unit of armed female Fatah fighters in Gaza who are undergoing military training and participating in operations against Israel. The members of the unit, called Fidaayat Al-Aqsa, appear in the photos with their faces covered and wearing yellow Fatah headbands. The article presents them as Palestinian freedom fighters, and stresses that they are partners of the men not only in “managing the affairs of the family” and in the “practical training of the [next] generations of the resistance,” but also in carrying out “Palestinian resistance in Gaza.” These women, it adds, strive to be “an important part of the path of jihad and struggle which was also taken by Dallas Al-Mughrabi, Hanadi Jaradat, and Rim Al-Riyashi.
It should be noted that the phenomenon of women Fatah fighters is not new, and was reported as far back as seven years ago. However, it is of interest in the context of the Palestinian public debate on whether or not women should take an active part in the resistance.
The following are excerpts and photos from the article.
Muhammad Mahmoud ‘Awad with the women fighters
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: Some Operations Are Easier For Women To Carry Out
Abu Muhammad, spokesman of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’ Nidal Al-‘Amoudi unit, said in response to the establishment of the women’s unit: “The occupation has forced our women to join the ranks of the resistance after their sons, husbands and brothers have been killed.” He added that the women carry out certain missions that are harder for the men to carry out because they arouse more suspicion.
The women fighters training with firearms and rockets
One Of The Women Fighters: We Left Our Homes And Children To Join The Struggle
One of the fighters, a woman in her twenties called Umm Salim, said: “We left our children, our homes, our husbands and our studies and joined the ranks of the struggle… Palestinian women have paid dearly for the defense of the homeland, which the barbaric Zionist occupation has treated with arrogance.” Umm Salim added that her message to every Palestinian mother is that “fighting and resistance are the duty of every Muslim in this land, male or female… [The purpose of] our existence is not confined to childrearing, the home, the kitchen and family life. We must take part in the fighting in the front ranks, alongside our husbands and sons.”
Woman Official In Popular Front Supports Women’s Participation In Armed Struggle
Dr. Miriam Abu Daqqa, a senior official in the Popular Front organization, said that the women fighters were “following in the footsteps of fighters Leila Khaled and Dalal Al-Mughrabi, and many other women who sacrificed their bodies [and turned them] into shrapnel that hit the [supposedly] invincible army.” She stressed that the organizational affiliation of the women was unimportant, and that the only thing necessary was “for the Palestinian women to fight, build and to bring up [the next generation], and to be no less adamant than the men.”
Discussion On Facebook
Facebook users voiced different opinions on this issue. Some opposed women fighting on the battlefield, saying that their role should be confined to encouraging and supporting the men. A user named ‘Ali Sa’id wrote that women must bear arms only when here is a shortage of male fighters. A woman activist called Hanin said that the women’s role during war is to look after the home and the family.
 Three Palestinian women who carried out deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis. Al-Mughrabi was the deputy-commander of the March 11, 1978 coastal road attack, in which 35 people were murdered and 71 wounded; Jaradat carried out the Maxim Restaurant suicide bombing in Haifa on October 4, 2003, in which 21 people were killed and 51 wounded; Al-Riyashi was Hamas’s first suicide bomber, who blew herself up at the Erez checkpoint between Israel and Gaza, killing four Israelis and wounding ten.
 See almoslim.com, April 27, 2007.
 Alwatanvoice.com, April 20, 2014.
 A Popular Front member who participated in plane hijackings in 1969-1970.