London, Sep.1 (ANI): A woman, who almost became a suicide bomber, has now turned champion for promoting peace in the Middle East, and she is seeking inspiration from India's Mahatma Gandhi to further her cause.
"I admire the struggle of Mahatma Gandhi, but the Israelis are also using violence, and they haven't changed. But what I do know now is that only God is allowed to take human lives," says Shifa al-Qudsi.
Recalling that terrible moment when she was being guided about how to become a martyr for the Islamic cause, Shifa al-Qudsi, said a young man from the Al-Aqsa Brigade checked the suicide vest rigged to her body to make sure the explosive charge was correctly connected.
And, he told her: "All you have to do is press the button."
"It was the hardest, cruelest moment of my life. I did what was asked, and I made my will trying to explain to my six-year-old daughter and my parents what I was doing. I also sent a message to the Israelis and the outside world that I was a freedom fighter and not a terrorist," The Independent quoted the 24-year-old beauty technician, as saying.
She recalls that she was being sent from her home in the West Bank town of Tulkarem to blow up a supermarket in the nearby Israeli town of Netanya.
Qudsi, however, was arrested in a dawn raid at her home in April 2002 before she could carry out her mission, betrayed, she believes, by an informer within the Palestinian ranks.
She was convicted and served a six-year jail sentence, but since her release in January she is following a very different path. She is now one of the "Combatants for Peace".
The Palestinian woman, now 30, is still a nationalist but is doing what she can to break the cycle of violence as a member of the group of Israeli and Palestinian campaigners who favour a two-state solution to the Middle East problem.
Combatants for Peace was started in secret in 2005 by a handful of Palestinians and Israelis who had fought on opposing sides.
It went public the next year and has grown to more than 150 members who give lectures to promote their new found co-operation as a model for peace.
It was one of Qudsi's Israeli jailers who helped to change her mindset from violence to peace during her imprisonment, a period in which she saw her daughter just three times.
Qudsi recalls how harrowing it was to say goodbye to her daughter before her intended suicide attack. She was bringing up the girl by herself, after getting divorced from her husband.
Her daughter kept crying and saying, 'Do not do this, stay with me, nobody will take care of me if you go away'," Qudsi recalls.
The Israelis, she says, appeared to have quite detailed information about the plot. A week later the would-be second bomber was shot dead and three other members of the cell were captured.
Since then, Qudsi has returned to work in the beauty parlour and resumed her studies, completing her high school exams and starting to learn Hebrew and English.(ANI)
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