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Palestinian lawmaker, mother of militants, dies

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IBRAHIM BARZAK | March 17, 2013 04:20 PM EST | AP

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian lawmaker known as the "mother of martyrs" who praised and supported three of her sons who were killed while carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis died Sunday, a Gaza official said.

Mariam Farhat, who said she wished she had 100 sons to die while attacking Israelis, died in a Gaza city hospital of health complications including lung ailments and kidney failure, health official Ashraf Al-Kidra said. She was 64.

The mother of 10 first came to attention in 2002 when she recorded a farewell video with her 19-year-old son, Mohammed, giving him her blessing the night before he undertook a shooting attack in a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip.

The video showed Mohammed holding hands with his mother, who prayed for him to become a "martyr," the term Palestinians use for militants killed in attacks on Israelis. Armed with grenades and automatic rifles, he broke into a study hall, killing five seminary students before he was shot dead by a soldier.

In a video that mother and son made together just before the attack, Farhat said: "I wish I had 100 boys like Mohammad. I'd sacrifice them for the sake of God."

"When I see all the Jews in Palestine killed, that will be enough for me," his mother said on camera. "I wish he will kill as many as he can, so they will be scared."

After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the Farhat family returned to the Jewish settlement where Mohammed undertook the militant attack. They took what they said was the piece of wire fence Mohammed had cut to get in, and mounted it on an outer wall of their home.

Farhat had two other sons were killed by Israeli forces while they were preparing attacks. Another son is in an Israeli prison.

The firebrand loyalist of the Islamic militant Hamas survived three Israeli airstrikes that targeted her house between 2006 and 2010.

She also survived an Israeli military assault on her house, when one of Hamas' top bomb makers, Emad Akel, was killed in a hail of fire in her front yard after hiding in her basement for a year.

Years later, in 2006, after she became one of the few women elected to the Palestinian parliament as a Hamas legislator.

She told The Associated Press that she cried for her slain sons but that "jihad (holy war) comes ahead of everything, including my feelings as a mother."

Israelis view such attacks as terrorism and are generally appalled by the way some Palestinians celebrate such militant attacks.

About 4,000 Palestinians attended her funeral, including Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.