Israel Captures Would-Be Female Suicide Bomber

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli security forces arrested a would-be female suicide bomber in a West Bank raid on Monday as Israel remained on high alert against the possibility of terrorist attacks during the Passover holiday.

Israel stepped up its police presence around the country and clamped a complete closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip forbidding Palestinians to enter Israel just before the Passover holiday began last Wednesday.

The worst terror attack in the last two and a half years occurred on the eve of last Passover when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a hotel at the beginning of the traditional festive Passover meal, killing 29 people and wounding scores more.

Israel Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky said that the police and the army are working very hard to prevent terror attacks, especially during the holiday.

"There is a closure. The [army] is operating in the territories," Aharonisky said in a radio interview on Monday.

"The Israel police didn't stop operating against terror - the opposite. In the period of the holidays, in the period of Passover and with Independence Day before us, we have intensified our work," he said.

Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian woman in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus early Monday.

Fayerouz Ahmed Mahmoud Makhil is suspected of intending to carry out a suicide bombing attack in the near future, the army said. She was nabbed along with a Fatah activist in the raid.

Over the weekend, security forces arrested another female militant in the Ein Beit Illmeh refugee camp near Nablus. Raida Majdla is accused of being a suicide bomber recruiter.

They also arrested Yussiv Fahamui, suspected of recruiting terrorists and suicide bombers and Jihad Halila, who was planning to carry out a suicide attack inside Israel, the army said in a statement.

Earlier, Israeli forces discovered an explosives-laden suitcase, intended for a suicide attack during the Passover holiday and arrested the three-member cell, which planned the attack as well as the Palestinian woman who intended to smuggle the suitcase into Israel.

Weapons Smuggling Tunnels Destroyed

In the Gaza Strip, five Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were killed over the weekend in an Israeli army operation to uncover tunnels under the Israeli-Egyptian border used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Sgt. Lior Ziv, 19, a photographer from the army's spokesman's office, was the first army media person to be killed during the last two and a half years. He had been documenting the army's operation in the Rafah refugee camp at the time.

Palestinians identified their dead as Hussan Zaanu, 22, Said al-Masri, 19, Muhammad al-Hamaida, 20, Nahed al-Nawajha, 29, and Mahmoud Abu Koh, 15.

According to Palestinian reports, troops and some 30 tanks entered Rafah while Palestinians called on the residents to resist the soldiers.

Military sources said that they had encountered "very intense resistance" by the Palestinians there who fired automatic weapons, threw grenades, detonated explosive devices and launched anti-tank rockets towards them.

Israeli troops uncovered two tunnels, one at an unprecedented depth of 30 meters (about 98 feet) used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Brig. Gen. Gadi Shamani, commander of the Gaza Strip Division, was quoted on Monday as having said earlier that, "Weapons smuggling tunnels serve as a lifeline to Palestinian terror."

Dozens of tunnels were discovered in 2002, Shamani said. Seventeen have been discovered so far this year, the army said.

Troops also demolished the house of Mahmud Abu Shmallah, head of Hamas in Rafah.

He was accused of being involved in trading weapons, including grenades and rifles as well as being responsible for a 1994 shooting attack along the Israeli-Egyptian border in which a soldier was killed.

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