May 8, 2001
As a baby girl killed by Israeli gunfire was buried Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon accused Palestinians of purposely putting their children in the line
of fire. And now, there is a shocking new war of words.
BURY ME with my baby, the father cries. His daughter, Iman, was just four
months old when she died in her mother’s arms Monday, killed by shrapnel
from an Israeli shell, the youngest victim of seven months of fighting.
So far, there have been 121 funerals for Palestinian children here. Most
were killed in the crossfire, but now the Palestinians are calling on the youngest
to join the battle.
And they are using a stunning tactic: commercials on Palestinian TV asking
children to drop their toys, pick up rocks, and do battle with Israel.
They are even using actors to recreate the most famous image of the
uprising – one that shocked the world – 12-year-old Mohammed Dura dying in
his father’s arms, caught in the crossfire of a confrontation between Israelis and
Palestinians. The commercial shows Mohammed in paradise urging other
children to ‘follow him.’
“I wanted to die to protect my son,” says Jamaal Dura, Mohammed’s father,
“but this is my fate.”
Jamaal, who was shot eight times and barely survived, is now
recovering from surgery in Jordan. NBC News showed him the commercial for
the first time.
“It breaks my heart,” he said.
He believes in peace, but does not believe it is possible now with this
There’s no escape from the war for children here. At his son Mohammed’s
school in Gaza, there is a daily prayer and a call to arms.
“Are you afraid,” one boy shouts. “No,” they answer. And then,
“We ask Allah to destroy the Jews.”
More than half the population of Gaza are children under the age of fifteen. And
if you ask any of the boys there what they want to do, they’ll answer the same
thing: fight the Israelis.
“Where is Mohammed?” the teacher asks.
“Paradise!” the children answer.
Mohammed’s desk is now a shrine. His photo rests on his chair. And the phrase
learned in English class Tuesday is: “The Israeli army killed our friend – shame
Already, young boys are learning how to fight. Summer camp teaches them
how to resist the Israelis, but now they are being taught not to fear death. The
greatest glory, they’re told, is to be a martyr.
Palestinian television: “the sweet fragrance of martyrdom”
Arutz Sheva News Service, May 15, 2001
Palestinian Media Watch Director Itamar Marcus reports:
Until recently, we have suspected that the PA was encouraging children to get
killed – but a look at many clips that have been broadcast recently on
Palestinian television has now supplied concrete proof of it. A new clip that
was broadcast week for the first time accompanies a Palestinian boy on
the day he plans to die.
This is a nice-looking and smiling boy of about 12 who says goodbye to
his family and walks off happily, self-confidently, and purposefully to his death.
Before he leaves, he even writes a parting letter to his family – but he does not
give it to his father, but rather transmits it via his friends. The message here
probably is not to inform one’s parents, so that they will not put a stop to it.
In the background, the singer sings, “Don’t be angry, my love, and don’t cry
over my parting. Oh, my dear father, this martyrdom is on behalf of my land!
For my land I will sacrifice myself!
How sweet is martyrdom, when I embrace you, my land!
… My beloved mother, more dear to me than
be happy over my blood, and don’t cry for me! Tell my brother
that our souls are sacrificed for beloved
Jerusalem! We don’t run after wars, but we are great at them.”
Marcus reports that the boy conveys a feeling of serenity throughout the clip:
“The death itself is not cruel, and the boy shows no fear or resistance, he does
not cry, and even the way he falls is gentle, and he hardly bleeds. His friends
approach him, turn him on his face, and they are serene.”
PMW also reports on the screening of clips of the ‘life after death’ of
Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Arab who was killed in crossfire near the
Netzarim junction at the beginning of the current war.
The boy has been made into a Palestinian hero; some 400 songs have
been written about him, and the films of his death, which were internationally
televised at the time, are shown dozens of times a day on Palestinian television.
Information indicating that he was likely killed not by Israeli bullets but by
Palestinian fire has been largely ignored.
A recent clip on PA television shows him calling to other children, “I’m waving
to you, not to say goodbye, but to say, ‘Come follow me.'”
He is portrayed after his death playing with a kite in a beautiful, green,
tree-lined field; on the beach; at an amusement park; on the Temple Mount; and
in a sunny field with water being sprinkled high – while sandwiched in-between
are scenes of blood and Israeli Army violence.
“In the background is the voice of a popular female singer, “How pleasant is the
fragrance of the earth, its thirst quenched by a gush of blood flowing from a
youthful body… How pleasant is the aroma of the martyrs…”
The clip ends with the flashing of a caption, “Produced by the
Ministry of Information and Culture and the Palestinian National Fund.”