'Mother of martyrs' runs for Hamas

A mother who has lost three sons fighting Israel is to run for Hamas in Palestinian parliamentary elections.

    Miriam Farhat pictured before a poster of her dead sons

    Mariam Farhat, an icon of the intifada, will join male Hamas leaders to contest a legislative election due in January in which Hamas, the Islamist group sworn to Israel's destruction, is taking part for the first time. It is expected to present a serious challenge to Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

    Farhat, 56, has strong militant credentials, including an appearance carrying a gun in a video in which she advised one of her sons, Mohammed, on tactics before he attacked a Jewish settlement.

    Mohammed, 17, killed five Israelis before he was shot dead in the assault in the occupied Gaza Strip in 2002.

    Farhat's eldest son, Nidal, was killed in 2003 as he was preparing for another attack. A third son, Rawad, died earlier this year in an Israeli air strike on his car, which was carrying rockets. Three other sons are still alive.

    Farhat, popularly known as Umm Nidal and regarded by Palestinians as a "mother of martyrs", said: "I am pleased that Hamas trusted me and I declare I will be at the service of my movement."

    Hamas's choice of Farhat, seen by Palestinian analysts as a sure vote-winner, appeared to demonstrate just how serious the group is about its challenge to Fatah's traditional dominance.

    In addition to senior leaders, some in Israeli jails, university professors and engineers, Hamas also plans to back several independents and at least one Christian. It hopes to establish a bloc of lawmakers that could prevent progress towards peace with Israel.

    Israel and the US are concerned that Hamas, which has built up a social welfare network in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, could do well in the election, seen as a test of the leadership of President Abbas.

    However, Abbas, a moderate, has rejected Israeli calls to bar Hamas from the vote, while struggling to salvage Fatah's image after party primaries that were tainted by violence and allegations of fraud.

    Farhat said the decision of Hamas to participate in mainstream Palestinian politics did not contradict its military goals.

    "The jihadist project completes the political one and the political project cannot be completed without jihad," she told Reuters, using the Arabic term for "holy struggle" against the Jewish state.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.