'Pride' of suicide attacker's mother

In Gaza, the mother of a Palestinian suicide attacker who killed two Israelis before being shot dead has spoken of her feelings about her son's actions...

Naima al-Obeid and her son, Mahmoud, in Hamas video

A video released by Hamas shows a proud mother taking up arms beside her favourite son.

We believe our sons go to heaven when they are martyred... when [Jewish] sons die they go to hell

Naima al-Obeid
First a warm embrace, then a loving kiss.

Naima al-Obeid was saying goodbye to her 23-year-old Mahmoud, a college student on his way to carry out a suicide attack.

"God willing you will succeed," she says.

"May every bullet hit its target, and may God give you martyrdom. This is the best day of my life."

Mahmoud says: "Thank you for raising me."

Naima got her wish.

Mahmoud was shot dead attacking the Jewish settlement of Dugit in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Deaths celebrated

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in the ambush.

Their deaths are being celebrated near Mahmoud's home.

Funeral of Israeli soldier, Hezki Gutman, killed by Mahmoud al-Obeid
Obeid killed two Israelis before being shot dead
We found crowds coming to the mourning tent - and not just because of him.

People here aren't just remembering Mahmoud - they are honouring his mother.

She has become a heroine, being talked about on the streets, praised in the local papers.

Some Palestinians are taking a great deal of pride in a mother who saw her son go to kill and die without shedding a tear.

They are already saying she will inspire other women to do the same.

Heaven and hell

In her home, in Gaza, she showed me pictures of the son she calls "my heart".

She had no sympathy for the dead Israelis, no regrets over the loss of her own son.

"Nobody wants their son to be killed. I always wanted him to have a good life.

"But our land is occupied by the Israelis. We're sacrificing our sons to get our freedom," she told me.

I asked her if it mattered whether her son killed women and children.

"The women and children are also Jews," she said, "They're all the same for me.

"And I want to tell Jewish mothers - take your children and run from here because you will never be safe. We believe our sons go to heaven when they are martyred. When your sons die they go to hell."

Naima is surrounded by well-wishers, no one asking why she gave her son a licence to kill.

She has nine more children, whom, she says, all have a duty to fight the Israeli occupation.

Tuesday, 18 June, 2002