CNN reports on a handful of militant women in Gaza who have joined the radical al-Nasir Salahuddin Brigades and gained training as guerrillas.
The women explicitly mentioned the model of women in the Israeli military as among their sources of inspiration.
These groups are more militant than Hamas, which is the most important party-militia in the Gaza Strip. One of the women, a mother, talks chillingly of her wish to be a suicide bomber against Israelis.
As I noted on Sunday, a wikileaks cable says that Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi admitted that there are such radical groups in Gaza that Hamas does not control.
Palestinian women of the secular Arab nationalist PLO have been joining the resistance since the late 1960s, so this phenomenon is not new. What is distinctive is to have women in a fundamentalist Muslim tradition such as now dominates Gaza taking up arms.
Many Gaza inhabitants are refugees who were expelled from their homes in the Israeli-Palestinian civil war of 1947-48 in Mandate Palestine. Gaza has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967 and since 2007 has been under an Israeli blockade that has destroyed most businesses and prevented Palestinians from exporting their products. The Israeli military appears to hope that the blockade of civilians (which is illegal in international law) will cause public support for Hamas to collapse. That strategy does not appear to be working. On the other hand, Palestinian militancy in Gaza has also been a dead end, and terrorist strikes and suicide bombings against Israelis, aside from being morally repugnant, have cost Palestinians dearly in world support.