From the sea of words and images flooding the Israeli press since news of Gilad Shalit's return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners broke, two female terrorists stand out above the others: Amina Mona from Fatah and Ahlam Tamimi of Hamas.On the other hand....
Mona was the mastermind behind the murder of teenager Ofir Rahum while Tamimi drove the Sbarro restaurant suicide bomber to his Jerusalem destination, where he murdered 15 Israelis and seriously injured many others.
In Israel, the release of the two is stirring strong emotions as they symbolize in their non-apologetic demeanor a strong sense of disgust and well-founded desire that they serve the rest of their lives in prison for their murderous activity. According to the prisoner swap deal, both will be deported: Mona to Gaza and Tamimi to Jordan.
As part of a project I conducted in Israeli prisons, I have held lengthy conversations with the two. Apart from being a young and intelligent woman, Mona turned out to be a manipulative woman with a larger ego than the entire Palestinian problem she claims to represent.
During our meetings, her mood swings could be easily identifiable. Alongside her outrageous statements defending her right to murder her enemies, including an innocent teenager who was lured by her romantic gestures, she still tried to convince me that she was not the monster that Israelis claim her to be.
Mona's problem is that it isn’t only Israelis who view her as a monster. Her fellow inmates also think she is. She controlled the prisoners in her ward with an iron fist as if she were Al Capone. Several inmates who refused to obey her orders suffered heavy punishments. Some were bitten by her while others suffered serious burns inflicted by boiling wax because they dared challenge her leadership.
Her infamous cruelty did not go unnoticed. Many Fatah members including her accomplice found it hard to defend her actions to me. Hamas even vowed to "sort things out" with her upon her release.
Even if it is no comfort to the Rahum family and the people of Israel, Mona may initially be received as a hero in Hamas-controlled Gaza, but her fate may not turn out to be as bright. She obviously won't enjoy much comfort in light of her abusive methods in prison.
Ahlam Tamimi was always proud of the fact that she was the first female Hamas combatant. She planted an explosive charge she had made inside a bottle and placed it on a supermarket shelf. Since she had a press card, she was granted free access to roam Jerusalem and collected information on possible targets for Hamas.People may want to look at a poster series I did earlier this year on female terrorists including Tamimi.
She personally led the suicide bomber to the location that she had singled out – the Sbarro restaurant – because she said there were "many radical Jews there".
She spoke to me while maintaining a chilling and provoking composure, which characterizes her entire attitude. The only concern she expressed in our meetings, during which she defiantly described her story, pertained to a possible deportation to Jordan, as was eventually decided upon in this deal.
During her prison sentence, Tamimi got engaged to her cousin – who is also jailed in Israel – and may now remain single. In contrast to Mona, she is expected to join Hamas' propaganda machine because of her persuasive rhetoric ability. She may even turn into Hamas' Leila Khaled (a Fatah plane hijacker who became a leading voice of the Palestinian cause).