PMW Report: PA urging kids to risk their lives
A report issued by Palestinian Media Watch yesterday shows that children seen in potentially life-threatening confrontations with soldiers since the outbreak of the Aksa intifada are being encouraged by the Palestinian Authority, media, parents, and teachers.
PMW director Itamar Marcus translated excerpts from reports published by the PA television and radio and by Palestinian newspapers, which prominently display the attitude of parents and teachers toward dead children. There are also statements from children injured in clashes whose main goal is to seek martyrdom. The PA pays compensation to the families of those killed or wounded in the clashes, $2,000 for a dead person and $300 for the wounded.
"As the number of those killed rises, the Palestinian media extols and exalts not only those killed, but also their willingness to die as martyrs for Allah, emphasizing that dying a martyr's death was the realization of their hopes," wrote Marcus.
On November 9, the official PA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida published remarks made by Wajdi Hatab, 14, to his friends days before he was killed. "When I become a martyr, give out kannafa [traditional cake]." Reacting to his death his schoolmates swore they would carry on down the road of martyrdom. The same article also quoted Hatab's gym teacher, who said he asked her to pass out the sweet cakes if he was killed.
On November 1, Al-Ayyam quoted a mother who encouraged her sons to sacrifice themselves for Palestine. "The danger of injury to the boy Tzabar Ashkaram, 18, paralysis and permanent disability, just added to his mother's determination to encourage her sons to participate in the intifada riots... the fact of his injury by a live bullet did not cause her to mourn. She said she had previously lost her older son Iyyad."
Ramahan Sahadi Abed Rabbah, 13, who was asked why he participated in clashes with soldiers, was quoted in Al-Hayat on November 8 as saying, "My purpose is not to be wounded but something more sublime - martyrdom."
On November 6, the same newspaper quoted a wounded 11-year-old from Jabalya refugee camp: "We are all potential martyrs for Jerusalem and the homeland."
On PA television on November 2, a teacher standing next to pupils said, "Our blood is a sign of our fighting for our precious Palestine."
Since the outbreak of the intifada, Palestinian Web sites are inundated with "live testimonies" from the wounded and those who witness the death of their friends. The dead are listed as martyrs, although Israeli monitors say not all were killed in clashes.
Janine Zacharia adds from Washington:
Roughly 200 US pediatricians, disturbed by recurring violent street demonstrations involving children in the West Bank and Gaza, have formed an informal coalition to condemn those who purposely expose children to danger for political gain.
Doctors Opposed to Child Sacrifice "will be a vocal advocate for the safety and well-being of children around the world by working to end the practice of using children as targets and weapons in violent political activities," according to a press release issued yesterday.
The doctors signed a statement which calls on "all parents and governments to bring an end to their children's participation in non-peaceful demonstrations." It singles out the PA as a prime offender and calls on the international community "to make a strong statement against this outrage."
"We believe that it is in the best interest of the healthy development of children to teach and model non-violent methods of conflict resolution," the statement said. "Governments that encourage or permit children to participate in violence, to further political aims, are practicing a form of societal abuse."