This week, Palestinian television reprised, after a three-year absence, a clip featuring Palestinian child Mohammed al-Dura, calling to other children to join him in a shahid heaven for children. The dramatic heart-wrenching footage of al-Dura, shot dead in crossfire in a clash between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip in the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, was broadcast around the world.
Palestinian Media Watch reported on the television clip on Saturday, and announced, "The Palestinian Authority is once again airing video clips designed to influence the behavior of young children and to make them seek deaths as shahids."
"The clip, which caused much controversy when it first aired, was taken off the air in the fall of 2003, after Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus, presented the clip at a U.S. Senate hearing. Following the hearing, senators slammed the clip and criticized it as "horrifying abuse of children."
In the clip, a child portraying al-Dura is peacefully playing in heaven, and calls to other children, "follow me." The popular singer Aida performs the song in the clip, which describes how the earth longs for the deaths of children, saying, "How pleasant is the smell of the earth whose thirst is quenched by blood pouring out of young bodies."
Another clip that aired this week after a long absence depicts a young girl witnessing her mother's murder and then singing about how she misses her mother. She sings, "If you can't come to me, I can come to you."
Palestinian Media Watch reported that the 2000-2003 Palestinian television campaign to recruit young children was so effective, that 70 to 80 percent of Palestinian children during that time wanted to die as shahids, according to three separate polls.
Marcus fears that the "sudden and surprising reprisal of the al-Dura clip, calling upon children to join him in a playground in shahid children's heaven, may be only the first of many steps in a wide campaign designed to recruit children for the cause."