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The little shahids that (almost) could


As unbelievable as it seems, the Israeli Army apprehended two fourteen year old Palestinian children recruited for a suicide mission.

According to the Jerusalem Post article, 14 year olds Yaffer Hussein and Tarek Abu Mahsen were arrested at the Jalane checkpoint, along with 16 year old Ibrahim Suafta. All are residents of Tubas, a village north of Nablus.

Fourteen year old Tarek Abu Mahsen and , 16, left a letter saying:

"I want to carry out an attack against [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon's fence.

This fence, we will blow it up also, the Islamic Jihad youth movement... We want you to give out candies and don't cry for us and hold a big demonstration."

The fourteen year olds had been recruited by the Islamic Jihad, and the sixteen year old was recruited by Fatah. Their mission was apparently to carry out a suicidal shooting attack similar to those carried out previously in Afula.

The "record" for a "successful" young suicide bomber is held by Issa Badir was, who was 16 when he blew himself up in October 2001 in Rishon Letzion. Kuchai Salameh, 17, from Jaba, was arrested last March after he changed his mind about carrying out a suicide attack.

Are the young suicide bombers products of Palestinian education or homes that After the event, parents of suicide attackers often appear on Palestinian media praising the act.

"A mother makes sounds of joy because she wants him to reach shahada. He became a shahid for Allah Almighty. I wanted the best for him; this is the best for [my son] Shaadi."

However, parents of young would-be attackers who are caught seem to be less enamored of the idea. In this case, Tarek's father, Muhammad Abu Mahsen said:

"I will complain to the Palestinian intelligence to find whoever wanted to send my son... I have to find out who these people are who wanted to send my son, my young son."

The young 'resistance fighters' appear to be the product of praise given to "martyrdom" on PNA TV and of specific recruitment by groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa martyrs brigade, rather than encouragement from home or education received in the school system. Owing to the curfews, schools have been closed for much of the time in the occupied territories. When they aren't closed by the Israeli curfews, schools may be closed for "events" like Nakba day (commemoration of Israeli independence, usually marked by riots) or the recently declared "day of rage" or schools may be closed so children can attend funerals of "martyrs." Palestinian kids have gotten a lot of their education from the streets, from terror-group recruiters and from television. Palestinian children play at games of Palestinians vs IDF, just as American kids might play at cowboys and Indians. According to Palestine Media Watch's Itamar Marcus , polls show that a majority of Palestinian children admire martyrdom.

At the very least, we must conclude that something is very wrong with the way Palestinian children are being educated, and that something is very wrong with the Palestinian "resistance" movement. Supporters of non-violence will have to draw their own conclusions as to whether they can continue to justify their support for "resistance" by groups that recruit small boys to carry out such attacks.

Recently, a great deal of attention has been devoted to textbook and curriculum revision, both in the Palestinian Authority school system and in Arab countries. However, education does not begin and end with textbooks and the schools, or even what is taught at home. Palestinian children are probably not being taught to hate by their parents or school-teachers. Parents of children who died may be under extreme pressure by extremist groups to make statements praising martyrdom for nationalistic reasons. However, in the increasingly chaotic environment of the occupied territories, parents and schools may be losing control of the children to the street, the "resistance" organizations and the Palestinian media.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000212.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Under the British Mandate the Palestinian Arabs were the best educated people in the Middle East. It shows how desperate they are today. Hamas and others are similar to the Underground armies of Europe under the Nazis rule in WW2 fighting for their country in the only way possible.

Posted by Joseph @ 03/11/2004 12:20 AM CST

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