Failed bomber: 'I don't regret what I did. It was an honour'

Gaunt from a 21-day hunger strike, Wafa al-Bis has something of the fanatic about her. Given the chance, she says, leaning forward, she would try to blow herself up again.

This from the woman who after six years in an Israeli jail has been given another shot at life. Her mother next door is still laughing and crying with joy and relief. “I don’t regret what I did,” says a defiant Ms Bis, 27. “This is my homeland. What I did was an honour.”

She was just 21 years old when she failed to detonate a suicide vest at an Israeli checkpoint after it was spotted by soldiers. Her case gained particular notoriety for she was on her way to receive treatment at an Israeli hospital for disfiguring burns, raising suspicions that she intended to blow herself up there.

“It was my dream to be a martyr but God didn’t grant it,” she says, insisting that her target was the military, not civilians. “I wanted to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible.”

From Jabiliya refugee camp, Ms Bis was halfway through her 12-year sentence when Israel agreed to trade 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier. Latterly, she had been on hunger strike, a protest at the removal of privileges in Israeli jails.

When her mother Salma Shubeyr learned that her daughter was up for release, she could barely contain her joy. “I can’t begin to describe my happiness, I kept ululating,” she laughs.

But even after just six years apart, her daughter failed to recognise her mother as the nearly 300 freed prisoners arrived at Rafah border crossing yesterday. “I knew her, but she didn’t know me,” Mrs Shubeyr says. “Wafa fainted when I told her I was her mother. Her father picked her up, saying, ‘It’s your father’.”

Their joy is all the more intense because they have had their daughter returned to them twice, once from the brink of death, the second from jail. But if her parents have tried to guide her on a different path, they show little sign of it. “Jihad is Jihad, it’s an honourable thing,” her mother says. “I was proud of her.”

In the years since Ms Bis’ arrest, suicide attacks by Palestinians have ceased, but that is not to say there is a lack of motivation. The Palestinians are still no closer to achieving a state, and conditions in Gaza have rapidly deteriorated following a short war and four-year blockade by Israel that has crippled the economy and denied its 1.6 million inhabitants freedom of movement.

If anything, the success of the prisoner exchange, the culmination of the capture of an Israeli tankman five years ago, has reinforced the view of some Palestinians that armed resistance is the only path. “You have to know that Palestine will never be liberated through negotiations,” Ms Bis says. “This is the belief of the resistance.”

Asked if she would undertake a suicide mission again, she says: “Of course. Why not?… I would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could.”

Suggested Topics
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Hourly Paid Teachers

£20 - £25 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curren...

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits