Palestinian promotion of child martyrdom

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 28-May-07 | Author: Itamar Marcus and Barbara Croo| Source: Palestinian Media Watch

Part 1- Hamas TV continues promotion of Shahada (martyrdom) for children
Part 2- Overview of the history of promotion of children's Shahada – Martyrdom

Hamas TV continues active promotion of Shahada (martyrdom) directed at children. The new video clip, broadcast Sunday, follows the growth of a young Palestinian boy from a child into a Hamas Shahid – Martyr for Allah. The video shows the young child going to the mosque, praying and reading from the Quran, and then holding an automatic rifle together with the Quran as he envisions future participation in violent acts.

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website

[See part 2 below for an overview of the history of this phenomenon including links to numerous videos encouraging children to be Shahid - Martyrs]

The child then matures into a Hamas fighter, is shown participating in battle against Israel, and eventually dying as a Shahid as the choir sings, “The pure blood will produce honor and glory.”

This video directs Palestinian children to aspire to Shahada, reiterating a recurring music video theme of seven years that Shahada is expected of children. “Honor and glory” and "Shahada is sweet" are some of these messages specifically packaged for children on Hamas TV and Fatah controlled PA TV.

PA schoolbooks likewise promote Shahada death among children. One example:
"O heroes... Do not talk yourselves into flight. Your enemies seek life while you seek death. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies." [Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8 (2002), p. 16]

The following is an excerpt from the new clip on Hamas TV:

"We have come!
Machine-gun and Quran in our hands,
[visual: see child holding machine-gun and Quran]
We’ve grown and so has the right,
In the eyes of the wronged,
[visual: see child turn into adult and attack Israel]
We swore to retrieve the land,
The pure blood will produce
Honor and glory.
[visual: see him (child now turned adult) shot dead as Shahid - Martyr]
[Al-Aqsa TV, May 27, 2007]

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website

Part 2: Overview of the history of promotion of children's Shahada – Martyrdom

Shahada for children is a recurring message on both Fatah-controlled PA TV and Hamas-controlled Al Aqsa TV.

1. Hamas TV has been broadcasting regularly from March to May 2007 a video dramatization of the four-year-old daughter of female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi singing to her dead mother and vowing to follow in her footsteps. The video clip ends as the little girl picks up explosives from her mother's drawer.

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website

2. Another Hamas video encouraging the participation of children in terrorism focuses on Ahmed Yassin, the Hamas founder and religious leader killed by Israel. The video portrays young children as the continuation of Yassin’s legacy. Children are shown in uniforms, holding rifles and participating in military training. The lyrics stress the children's connection to Yassin: “Even though they killed our [Ahmad] Yassin, the land will grow a thousand Ahmad.”

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website

3. In another video, which was broadcast on Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority TV hundreds of times from 2001 to 2004, a young boy leaves a farewell letter to his parents and goes off to seek Shahada, describing the death he aspires as "sweet." This PA clip is designed to offset a child's natural fear of death, by depicting Shahada as heroic and tranquil.

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website

4. From 2000 to 2003, PA TV broadcast a music video depicting the delightful Shahid paradise of Muhammad Al-Dura, who died in crossfire. The child actor is shown flying a kite, frolicking on the beach and even at an amusement park. The clip opens with an invitation to other children from Al-Dura to aspire to Shahada: "I am waving to you not in parting, but to say 'follow me'." This video directing children to follow Al Dura to paradise as Martyrs was suddenly broadcast again in June, 2006, after Israeli troops had gathered at the border of the Gaza Strip, following the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website

5. The result of such virulent propaganda is apparent, when listening to the interview on PA TV with two 11-year-old Palestinian girls talking about Shahada and describing it as a primary ideal and personal goal. They explain that "all Palestinian children" view Shahada as more worthwhile than living because of its promised grand Afterlife.

Click to view video on YouTube or PMW website