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Palestinian children moved by boy's killing
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) -- Six-year-old Mohammed was thrilled when he heard his school would reopen after a break imposed because of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
It was not that Mohammed wanted to learn something new. He simply saw going back to school as a chance to gather with other children to throw stones at Israeli soldiers after classes.
"I was waiting for my school to pelt the Israeli army with stones," said Mohammed, who lives with his family in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Schools reopened in Ramallah on Sunday and were again functioning on Monday. They had been closed for safety reasons.
Frequently repeated television footage showing the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Durra during clashes in the Gaza Strip has made a deep impression on Mohammed and many other young Palestinians.
Al-Durra died in his father's arms when they were caught up in clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip just over a week ago. The Israeli army has acknowledged its soldiers apparently shot him.
"I don't care about my school any more," Mohammed said. "All I want is to get the Israeli soldier who killed him (al-Durra)."
The killing of al-Durra shocked viewers around the world, and particularly in Arab and Muslim countries.
Al-Durra was not the only child victim. Deputy Health Minister, Monther al-Sharif, told Reuters 11 children had died in the clashes and nearly one in every three wounded is a child. He did not give an age limit for his definition of a child.
A total of 89 people have been killed in the wave of violence, mostly Palestinians.
Children have made "Arabs and Jews" a favorite war game.
Children stand in lines opposite each other, carrying wooden rifles and hiding between rocks to act out their version of confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis.
In one such game, the "Jewish team," represented by six children, shouts at the "Palestinian team" using some words in Hebrew, imitating Israeli soldiers.
"We will sacrifice our blood and soul for al-Aqsa," seven-year-old Morad chants at the "Jewish team," referring to one of Islam's holiest shrines in Arab East Jerusalem.
The "Israeli soldier" pretended to fire at Morad with their wooden rifles, held together with rope.
Clashes erupted after Israeli right-wing politician Ariel Sharon visited the al-Aqsa compound on September 28. The site is also sacred to Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.
"I am ready to die for al-Aqsa," said Morad, whose elder brothers were jailed many times by Israel during the intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from 1987 to 1993.
"I prefer to die than to let Israel take al-Aqsa," he said.
Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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