We're very proud, bomber's family declares

The mother of Muhammad Faisal Saksak, the 21-year-old suicide bomber who carried out Monday's attack in Eilat, said she was aware of her son's plan to blow himself up and that she had wished him "good luck." Dozens of Palestinians, chanting slogans against Israel and the US, converged on the family's home to "congratulate" them on the success of the attack. Although Muhammad's uncles claimed he crossed the border into Israel from Jordan, PA security sources told The Jerusalem Post that he came from Egypt. They added that Muhammad's dispatchers were deliberately involving Jordan to avoid alienating the Egyptians and to create tensions between the Jordanians and Israel. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip claimed that preparations for the attack lasted seven months and that Muhammad had received training in Aqaba. The suicide attack is seen by many Palestinians as an attempt to divert attention from the Hamas-Fatah war that has claimed the lives of 34 people over the past four days. Fatah and Hamas leaders have repeatedly urged their followers to halt the fighting and to use their guns only against Israel. Ruwaidah, 43, said she last saw her son on Friday morning, when he walked out of his home in the Slateen neighborhood near Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. "As he walked out of the house, he asked me to wish him good luck," she said. "I wished him good luck and I knew of his decision to become a martyr. Although I was aware of his intention, I did not know exactly when he was planning to carry out a martyrdom attack." According to the mother, another one of her sons, Naim, phoned Muhammad on his cellular phone over the weekend to inquire about his whereabouts. "When Muhammad answered, he told Naim: 'Pray for me all of you and don't try to call me again. I'm now in Jabalya refugee camp.' After that we tried to call him many times, but his phone was out of service." The mother of nine said she was proud of her son for carrying out the suicide attack. "I pray to Allah that Muhammad will be accepted as a shaheed [martyr]," she said shortly after hearing about the Eilat bombing. "I hope that his martyrdom will deliver a message to the Fatah and Hamas fighters to stop the fighting and direct their weapons against the one and only enemy - Israel." Ruwaidah said she was prepared to "sacrifice" all her sons "for the sake of the Aksa Mosque and Palestine." She added: "I hope that our politicians will stop fighting so that the blood of the martyrs will not be shed in vain." The suicide bomber's older brother, Naim, 26, said he, too, was proud of his brother, whom he described as a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades. "I knew that he was going out to launch a martyrdom attack and I wished for him to become a martyr," he said. "The family is very proud of what Muhammad did. He always wanted to be a martyr and was among those who went out to fight against the Israeli soldiers each time they invaded the Gaza Strip." Muhammad's wife, Nadia, said she shared the family's sense of "pride" for what her husband did. "When I heard that he was martyred, I felt very proud of him," she said. "Why shouldn't I feel so when I know that he died for the sake of Palestine and Al-Aksa? It's much better than dying in the internal fighting between Fatah and Hamas." Although the Saksak family insisted that Muhammad belonged to the Islamic Jihad, a spokesman for the armed wing of Fatah, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed that his group was responsible for the attack. The spokesman, Abu Odai, said the attack was a "natural response to Israeli violations of the hudna [temporary cease-fire], including settlement construction and excavation work under the Aksa Mosque." Abu Odai threatened that his group would continue to launch suicide attacks against Israel. "All options are open for striking against Israel," he told reporters in Gaza City. Asked if his group had decided to use Jordan and Egypt as launching pads for attacking Israel, the Fatah spokesman refused to reveal how the terrorist infiltrated Israel. He added that the attack was aimed at "reminding our brothers in Fatah and Hamas that they must direct their weapons against Israel and not at each other."