JEBALIYA, Gaza Strip – Hundreds of Palestinians buried on Friday a 64-year-old grandmother who blew herself up near Israeli troops, while soldiers killed two other Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, in an ongoing offensive in northern Gaza, Palestinian hospital officials said.
To shouts of "Allahu akbar," men and women gathered to bury Fatma Omar An-Najar — by far the oldest of more than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers who have attacked Israelis over the past six years — draping her simple wooden coffin in a green Hamas flag and driving it off to a nearby cemetery.
Not far away, also in Jebaliya, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, hospital officials said. The army said troops had no knowledge of hitting a boy in that area.
Earlier Friday, troops killed a Hamasmilitant whose role it was to film the group's battlefield operations. Hamas often films its operations and then broadcasts the footage on its television station and releases it to media outlets.
The military stepped up its Gaza offensive on Wednesday after a second Israeli was killed in the space of a week by Palestinian rocket fire.
An-Najar's death, coupled with a women's demonstration to divert Israeli troops while Hamas militants escaped from a mosque earlier this month, reflect increased involvement by Gaza women in the Palestinian struggle.
Still, An-Najar's granddaughter, Leila, 13, cried hysterically at the funeral.
"I knew she wanted martyrdom. She was brave. But I'm still surprised that she did it," Leila An-Najar said.
An-Najar blew herself up on Thursday as Israeli forces were moving through the Jebaliya refugee camp north of Gaza City. The troops spotted a woman acting suspiciously, the army said. The soldiers threw a stun grenade, and then An-Najar set off the explosives she was carrying, killing herself and lightly wounding two of the troops.
Female suicide bombers were a rarity during the first several years of the current conflict, but this has gradually changed. The last suicide bombing, on Nov. 6, was also carried out by a woman in northern Gaza.
The Israeli offensive is an effort to stop Palestinian militants from firing homemade rockets at Israeli towns and villages that border Gaza. But the operation appears to be futile, with militants continuously firing rockets, including two on Friday. No one was injured in the latest rocket fire.