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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 09, 2003

The lost children of Rafah

A rather long but useful article in the Leftish The Observer and after elaborating on how these youngsters are raised, the wrtier begins to blame Israel for that which Palestinian leaders and parents allow
By the age of eight, boys in the bullet-scarred towns of the Gaza Strip are running errands for Palestinian gunmen. By 10, they're throwing home-made bombs at Israeli soldiers. And by 13, they're preparing for martyrdom(...) Ehab Abu Taha is offended when I ask if he throws bombs at the Israelis. Undernourished and chain-smoking, he looks 16. He tells me he is actually 23. It is not the idea that he might attack Israeli soldiers that bothers him, it's the fact that in the refugee camps of Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip, hurling homemade grenades is something that 'kids do', not teenagers, and certainly not adults. Ehab calls over a local child returning from one of the UN camp schools. He is a boy of about 10. He says he has thrown bombs four times at the Israelis. When we ask to see one of the crude steel pipes, he disappears and returns five minutes later with one hidden in his purple rucksack.

It is a rusty tube, welded at both ends and drilled with a hole to take a rudimentary fuse. A device this size, says Ehab, costs 7 shekels (about £1). The best ones cost £1.50. It is a lot of money in a place where families struggle to raise the £70 a month they need to rent a house away from the danger of the front line, where every home is vulnerable to bullets and tank shells. So the boys scavenge for scraps of metal they can sell, under the sights of the Israeli guns, or run messages for the gunmen.

Their game with the pipe bombs goes like this: at night they creep into the wrecked buildings on the front line close to the Egyptian border and into the no-man's land beyond. When they are close enough to the Israeli patrols, or the watchtowers that overlook the camp, the petrol-soaked fuse is lit with a cigarette. When it is almost burned down, they toss the cylinder. The timing is crucial and difficult to judge. Unlucky ones can lose a hand. [more]

note: I found this piece via Rantburg