“The hardest thing for anyone is to have their son under the earth”

So speaks the father of Ibraheem, a nine year old boy executed by Israeli soldiers, on a Channel 4 Dispatches programme The Children of Gaza, which follows the lives of some chidren in Gaza since their traumatisation by events during Israel’s attack on Gaza over a year ago.

The phrase “executed by Israeli soldiers” reflects the dispassionate description by Ibraheem’s twelve year old sister Omsyatte of her younger brother’s death. The eloquence of Omsyatte and other children in the programme is disturbing in their astonishingly eloquent analysis and reflection on events in their young lives which would have a profound impact on the most life-hardened adult anywhere. Twelve year old Mahmoud, who witnessed the unprovoked killing of his father and the death of his four year old brother Ahmed, states simply: “Now I hate everyone – before I used to love people.” In him, and in outspokenly eloquent young Ibraheem, from a fishing family, we see the making of “terrorist” leaders of the future.

This programme does not flinch from the bleak fact that the violence to themselves and their personal witnessing of killed loved ones in the month or so of horror inflicted on them a year ago is producing a generation of children growing up with a mindset of violent, revengeful hatred to all Jewish people. To watch the games the boys play with their toy guns, mimicking the brutal disruptions of the working lives of Gaza fishermen, the interrogations of terrorist suspects, the whole gamut of life in the open air prison which is Gaza under siege, is to see in clear relief the seeds of an open-ended cycle of violence and resultant regional insecurity which have been sown by Israel’s aggression.

Yet even these brutalised children voice desperate pleas for a return to peace and normality. The balanced critique of Omsyatte, one so young, is inspiring – speaking beyond her immediate inconsolability of living in a roastingly hot tent instead of her beloved demolished, cool home, and her wish for martyrdom to escape from present meaninglessness – to a cool analysis of the destructive influence of Hamas-Fatah disunity, and their need to show a united face to Israel’s oppression.

Watch the programme here

ICAHD UK encourages supporters to send their comments on the programme to C4’s comments and queries contact page. People may like to comment on the statement in the programme that “Hamas and Islamic Jihad are committed to the destruction of Israel”. This is an arguable statement – in the case of Hamas, at least. It is well documented that the Hamas leadership have repeatedly offered to Israel a “hudna” – a long-term ceasefire – and other concessions to encourage the Israelis towards the negotiating table. Some observers claim that the Israelis have timed in the past extra-judicial assassinations of Hamas leaders and other acts of targetted aggression to provoke a violent reaction from Hamas militants, in order to derail any chance of a meaningful progress towards dialogue with the elected Hamas administration in Gaza.

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