In new Gaza clip, kids urge ‘martyrdom, blowing up enemies’

Fresh footage from local children’s festival shows boys running through mock tunnel, training with toy guns and simulating capture of Israeli soldiers

Young Palestinian boys emerge from a 'tunnel' as part of a presentation at a children's festival in the Gaza Strip, April 2016 (Courtesy MEMRI)
Young Palestinian boys emerge from a 'tunnel' as part of a presentation at a children's festival in the Gaza Strip, April 2016 (Courtesy MEMRI)

New footage to emerge out of a children’s festival in the Gaza Strip shows play-acting Palestinian kids urging each other to “die as martyrs” and “blow up their enemies,” and includes mock presentations of them capturing Israeli soldiers and running through what appears to be a tunnel.

A video of the events, part of the eighth annual “Childhood Festival” by the Islamic Association in Khan Younis in April, was uploaded to the internet this week, and was made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

During one segment, a young girl calls on her “child” to “join the battle! Die as a martyr, and blow up the enemies.”

Others show young boys clasping toy assault rifles as they strike poses in formation and run through what appears to be a tunnel.

Children are also shown “capturing” an Israeli soldier and throwing rocks at Israeli policemen. The setting appears to be Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, with boys dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jews seen praying the background.

Two young girls then declare that “the young people of Jerusalem are staging a knife revolution.”

A previous video from the festival which was broadcast by Channel 2 in late April showed children brandishing toy knives and machine guns as they performed a play simulating violence against Israelis.

The Daily Mail later reported that a British pro-Palestinian charity supported by UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn funded the festival. The Mail said that the charity Interpal, formally known as the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, donated £6,800 (approx. $10,000) to the event.

Corbyn, the Mail said, has spoken at fundraisers for Interpal. In 2013 he “accepted” from it a tour of Gaza costing £2,800 (approx. $4,000), and even appeared in a promotional video for the charity. The report also said that the Labour leader referred to Interpal boss Ibrahim Hewitt — whom the paper calls “a notorious Islamic hardliner who has said adulterers should be stoned” — as a “very good friend.”

The event was broadcast on a Hamas television channel dedicated to culture, available in Gaza and the West Bank, according to Channel 2 news.

One short clip of the earlier play showed a young girl armed with a knife attempting to free a Palestinian prisoner from Israeli jail by stabbing the guards. She is shot and falls to the ground amid cries and screams from the audience. Other little girls then approach and cry over her “body.”

“Do not be angry with her,” a voice on the loudspeaker says. “She is your blood, your flesh and your honor.”

Young Palestinian boys hold toy guns in a play held in Gaza as part of the 'Palestine Festival for Children and Education,' April 2016 (Channel 2 news)
Young Palestinian boys hold toy guns in a play held in Gaza as part of the ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education,’ April 2016 (Channel 2 news)

In the next scene, a boy dressed as a masked Palestinian sniper shoots a soldier and frees the prisoner from Israel.

“Rejoice! the sniper has arrived!” the upbeat music plays during the scene.

Ofir Gendelman, the Arab media spokesperson at the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday compared the play to the propaganda of the Islamic State.

“When Palestinians send their kids to act in this school play no wonder their kids committ [sic] attacks when they’re older” Gendelman tweeted.

Negative portrayals of Jews and Israelis in official Palestinian media and school textbooks have long been a concern to Israeli officials who claim the content amounts to incitement.

Israeli politicians have demanded that the Palestinian Authority crack down on anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric in official broadcasts, arguing it has inspired many young Palestinians to carry out attacks against Israelis.

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