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WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 25 2000 

Child martyrs from Arafat's school 

FROM SAM KILEY IN QALANDIYA REFUGEE CAMP, WEST BANK 
STONE-throwing children at the centre of riots on the 
West Bank and Gaza have received weeks of training in 
guerrilla warfare, including mock kidnappings, from 
Yassir Arafats Fatah movement. 
The children, some as young as 11, took a break yesterday 
from an often deadly game of cat and mouse with heavily 
armed Israeli soldiers to boast of their exploits on 
training camps where they were also indoctrinated with 
ferocious anti-Israeli sentiments. 
 
 
Over the past four weeks at least 120 Palestinians have 
been killed by Israelis. About a third of them were boys 
as young as 12, some among the 25,000 youngsters trained 
in 90 different Fatah camps earlier this year. 
The estimation of number of killed boys of age 12 or less as a third of total is absolutely incorrect. See the data on Addameer , Palestinean site. At 26 of October,  I have found there only 6 (six) victims of relevant age among total 120. (Only victims with noted age were included in my statistics, yet the age was noted for the majority of victims). This means about 5% instead of 33% in the article.
And what about 33%? That number may be composed by counting  victims of age 19 and less. Makes difference, does not it? (Isr2000 note)

Two young Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip and 
West Bank yesterday. A 16-year-old was shot dead at the 
Erez Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel, killed 
by a bullet in the stomach. A man of 22 died in a 
confrontation near the West Bank town of Jenin after 
being shot in the heart. 

Israel has repeatedly accused the Palestinian leadership 
of the cynical use of children in the front line for 
propaganda purposes and has insisted that they often pose 
a mortal threat to Israeli soldiers. The revelations that 
thousands of children were given guerrilla training in 
the months before the explosion of the al-Aqsa intifada 
reinforces this argument. Human rights groups and the 
United Nations, however, have condemned Israel for 
excessive use of force in controlling riots, and for the 
killing of children in particular. 

Asked why they were spending their days darting around 
the concrete maze of Qalandiya Camp firing catapults and 
throwing stones at soldiers armed with automatic weapons 
and rubber bullets, some of the youngsters just shrugged 
and said: Its fun. 

Hosni Samir Inteir, who turned 12 in September, said: In 
France the young dont throw stones, they watch TV and 
use the Internet because they dont have enemies. Here we 
have enemies so I throw stones and then work on computers 
in the evening. 

An unusually bright child, he referred to recent complex 
diplomatic and political developments. Standing out of 
the rain in the shade of a tin hut he explained that he 
read a lot of newspapers. 

Such a child should be destined for a bright future, but 
he says he would be happy never to see his adult years: 
I want to die as a martyr. I will be straight to 
paradise if I do that. 

Hosni and his friends had all been to the Fatah camps 
earlier this year. They were taught how to strip an 
automatic rifle and had a great time tumbling around 
assault courses and running through fire. Their camp 
differed from the sort of course they could have done 
with British Army cadets only in the hate they were 
taught to feel and in the ways they were told to express 
it. 

Trapped in the Qalandiya Camp with few employment 
prospects, they had already grown up on stories of how 
their ancestors were forced out of their homes by the 
Jews 52 years ago. In a concrete jungle with no 
playgrounds, they got their kicks by tormenting Israeli 
servicemen guarding the Qalandiya airport even before 
they were recruited by Fatahs youth wing, the Tanzim. 

Once there, in the bosom of the Palestine Liberation 
Organisation, the boys were told: Were going to make 
you men. 

What they learnt in the camps was how to direct their 
hate for the Israelis. Since then, they have returned to 
the streets with their stone age weapons to fight the 
Israeli Goliath. 

But the training the boys have received should not 
provide a reason for Israeli soldiers to kill them, human 
rights groups said yesterday. They said the Israeli use 
of snipers firing live rounds, and the use of 
plastic-coated steel bullets which resemble musket balls, 
against children who posed no lethal threat, were 
particularly bad abuses verging on war crimes. 

"No matter how irritating they might be or how they 
have been trained, kids throwing stones should not be 
shot at all according to the Israeli's own rules, never 
mind international law", said Carlos Cordone, the 
leader of an investigation team from Amnesty 
International in Jerusalem. 

Yesterday it was clear that Fatah had prepared its young 
supporters for conflict but also that they would have 
rushed to the burning barricades anyway. None of the 
children said they had been ordered to fight. They 
admitted they were throwing stones against the express 
orders of their parents and could expect a hiding if they 
were found out. 

Some told of how they had "passed out" from a 
camp near Nablus where they had staged a mock kidnapping 
of a senior Israeli officer and pretended to kill seven 
of his body guards. 
 
 

Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd. 
 

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