Suicide bomber was grandmother aged 64

A PALESTINIAN grandmother aged 64 blew herself up in a suicide attack aimed at Israeli troops sweeping through northern Gaza yesterday.

As Israeli forces were moving through the Jebaliya refugee camp north of Gaza city, they spotted a woman acting suspiciously, the military said.

Soldiers threw a stun grenade. The woman then set off explosives she was carrying, killing herself and slightly injuring two of the soldiers.

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The militant Hamas group, which is in charge of the Palestinian government, claimed responsibility and identified the bomber as Fatima Omar An-Najar. Her relatives said she was 64 - by far the oldest of the more than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers who have attacked Israelis over the past six years.

She lived in a ramshackle compound in Jebaliya town where her oldest daughter, Fatheya, said: "They [Israelis] destroyed her house, they killed her grandson - my son. Another grandson is in a wheelchair with an amputated leg."

Abu Obeideh, a spokesman for Hamas, said both Palestinian men and women are committed to battling the Israelis.

Eight other Palestinians were killed in the second day of Israel's operation aimed at halting or at least slowing the rocket fire from northern Gaza targeting Israeli towns.