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Hundreds of Palestinian women in robes and head scarves streamed into a Gaza combat zone Friday to help free gunmen besieged by Israeli troops at a mosque. Two women who came under fire were killed and at least 10 wounded, but some gunmen managed to escape.
The women, many with ties to the Islamic militant group Hamas, left their homes after daybreak in response to appeals on the local Hamas radio station or telephone calls from friends and relatives. By nightfall, they were celebrated as heroes, an unusual role in a deeply conservative society that tends to keep women on the sidelines. Until Friday, battling Israeli troops had been men's business in Gaza.