An Israeli soldier carrying an (M-16) automatic rifle is shooting at a group of kids throwing stones at him. One of the stone throwing kids falls on the ground while the rest of them throw more stones to distract the soldier so they can carry their friend and take him to the hospital.
Kids younger than 10 years of age play this game every day in the allies of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Those kids resemble the plight of the Palestinians with their war game which they call, ‘War between the Arabs and the Jews’.
Ahmed plays this game with his friends; he plays the role of the Martyr, the one that is killed by the soldiers while defending his land. He plays that role very well.
When Ahmed goes to the market, he does not buy the toys that other kids play with. He usually buys toy guns, tanks and bombs to play with.
A study by Dr. Samir Quteh, in the Mental Health Program in Gaza shows that the Israeli military actions in the Palestinian areas directly affect the children’s mental health.
Being the most vulnerable social sector, violence against Palestinian children creates violent reactions.
The study also shows that during the second Intifada, 94.6% of the Palestinian kids have seen funerals and 83.2% witnesses shooting where 66.9% saw injuries or deaths.
Imitating violence is the kid’s first reaction to it. In particular, kids imitate the older ones, [the militant Palestinians] who are their heroes as they fight the occupation that scares them.
Another side of the problem is the discrimination by the Municipality of Jerusalem against the kids of the eastern side of the city.
The local government spends lots of money on the childhood programs in Jewish West Jerusalem, but almost nothing in Arab East Jerusalem. Both are supposed to be the direct responsibility of the Israeli authority as East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel in 1967.
The municipality takes care of finding playgrounds and parks for the Jewish kids to play in and tend to forget about the Palestinian ones.
As Jewish kids play in playgrounds and sport facilities, Palestinian kids play ‘war game’ in the dangerous streets, even when both sectors pay the same amount of taxes.
Answering a question of why do they play in the street, Ahmed said, ‘Where do you want us to play? We have no play yards or centers to go to.’ While an older kid says with a sigh, ‘We are suffocated; because we are trapped both, physically and psychologically there is no place to play in.’