Child Soldiers of the Palestinian Authority

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 06-Jun-04 | Author: Itamar Marcus and Barbara Croo| Source: Palestinian Media Watch

Mother: I would have preferred a different son had died

The Palestinian Authority continues to promote the use of children as soldiers and to present their deaths as valuable and heroic.

During a long interview today, PA TV displayed the pictures of two 15-year-old combatants holding an assault rifle and a pistol. [See above] These children were killed while attacking an Israeli town in 2003, and have been honored by PA society for their deed as heroic Shahids (Martyrs).

The text on picture of the dead children reads: "The Popular Resistance Committee proudly announce the falling of three Shahids of the Great Islam."

This picture, shown throughout the interview with the dead children's parents, presents a strong message to viewers -- and especially to children -- that the dead combatants are role models for children.

The interviewer praised 15 year-old Mohammed who “always aspired Shahada (Martyrdom) despite his young age…. He said the 2 dead combatants "became outstanding for all Palestinians, outstanding in their medals of honor -- Shahada.”

The mother of 15 year-old Tareq said: “It was sad and joyous about him, meaning, he always liked the Shahada. All children at his age do… He was my first son, he always cared for me… I would have preferred that one of his other brothers would have attained Shahada instead of him, because he was the joy of my life.”

It is striking that the mother who clearly mourned her son, could not bring herself to break the PA taboo by expressing regret at the loss of her child as a Shahid. Instead, she expressed a preference "that one of his other brothers" would have died as a Shahid. This would be acceptable in PA society, as she did not reject what is expected of her as an Palestinian mother - to offer her sons to Allah as a Shahid.

[PA TV June 6, 2004]