Hamas, the terrorist organization which now governs the Gaza Strip, continues to use the media to indoctrinate children as young as pre-school into its cause, promote terrorist activity and incite hatred of Jews and Israelis. Hamas is able to reach children with its messages of hatred, violence and intolerance under the guise of entertainment and education through Al Aqsa TV, which broadcasts from the Gaza Strip, and Al-Fateh Magazine, its online magazine for kids.
Al Aqsa TV is a Hamas-run television station that promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. The station, which began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip in January 2006, is also available in other parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe via satellite.
Much of Al-Aqsa TV programming glorifies violence and is geared towards children, including music videos. For example, one music video depicts a 4-year-old girl singing to her "mother," identified as "mother Reem," (an apparent reference to Hamas's first female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi). Later in the video, the woman detonates herself and kills four Israeli soldiers. After her mother carries out the attack, the little girl holds an explosive and sings to the camera, "I am following Mommy in her steps."
Another music video broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV depicts a boy praying at a mosque before joining Izzedeen al-Qassam Brigades and becoming a "martyr." A third video, picturing children in paramilitary uniforms and armed with guns, includes lyrics exhorting viewers not to mourn for former leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin because "these are the acts of Martyrdom-Seekers."
In March 2008, Al Aqsa TV broadcasted a puppet show between President George Bush and an boy who is described as being orphaned when his father was killed in the Iraq, mother was killed in Lebanon by the "criminal Zionists" and brothers killed in "Gaza's Holocaust." The boy threatens to kill President Bush, who repents and pleads with the boy not to kill him. At the end of the show, the boy stabs Bush to death.
Broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV since April 2007, "Tomorrow's Pioneers" has used various children's characters to promote a message of radical Islam, anti-Semitism and hatred for the West.
When the show was first launched, it featured a Mickey Mouse-like character, "Farfur," that promoted a "return the Islamic community to its former greatness and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers." The "Farfur" character and child actors on the program taunted Western leaders and urge children to take up AK-47 assault rifles to defeat Israel and the United States.
Following international outrage in June 2007, the character was removed from the show – beaten to death by an actor posting as an Israeli soldier. "Farfur" was replaced "Nahool" the bee, who echoed many of the same themes. In one episode, Nahool said that "we will go as Islamic fighters" to liberate the al-Aqsa mosque from "the enemies of Allah, the killers of prophets."
The director of "Tomorrow's Pioneers," Samir Abu Mohsen, indicated that one of the reasons Nahool exists was to make sure that Palestinian children remember their exile status and are committed to regaining their land. "Nahool" eventually suffered a "martyr's death" during the Gaza closure in early 2008.
The newest character is "Assud" the rabbit. When asked by the show's host: "Why is your name 'Assud' ["lion"], since you are a rabbit?" Assud responded: "A rabbit is a [term] for a bad person and coward. And I, Assud, will finish off the Jews and eat them."
Al-Fateh, Hamas' British-based Arab-language on-line magazine for children, uses cartoon characters, games and other content to demonize Jews and Israelis and glorify terrorism.
Al-Fateh (Arabic for "the conqueror"), a bi-weekly magazine, has published over 70 issues since September 2002 that include stories and columns praising suicide bombers and attacks against the "Jewish enemy," as well as other anti-Semitic and anti-Israel themes. The magazine encourages readers to write in, and receives e-mail from children all over the Arab world.
The April 15, 2008, issue published an anti-Semitic cartoon that accuses Jews of exploiting the Holocaust for financial benefit. The cartoon depicts two religious Jews dressed in traditional Hassidic garb next to a giant bag of money with the word "Holocaust" printed on the bag. Between the Jewish characters is a bag of money and one of the Jewish characters (standing to the left) is holding a gun. The Jewish character on the right says "We lied a lie to prove it." The second Jewish character on the left responds "Come on, I'll show you a new lie, friend." An image of Israel is in the background, signed by what appears to be the artist's name.
The April 15 issue also contains an article celebrating the anniversary of the assassination of Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, a longtime prominent figure in Hamas killed in 2004. "He [Rantisi] did not want to die in a car accident or from a disease," the article reads, "but he wanted to die from an Apache helicopter, and praise Allah, the wish was granted…God bring us together, and with the righteous martyrs." The article features a poster, which reads: "In memory of Dr. Abd al-Aziz Rantissi. Bravo to martyrdom."
Al-Fateh regularly includes photos of children it claims have been detained, injured or killed by Israeli police, images of children firing slingshots or throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and children holding automatic weapons and firebombs.
Mothers of suicide bombers are quoted in the magazine as well. One mother is quoted as saying: "After I heard that my son became a shahid [martyr], I was beside myself with joy. I went to the store and bought candy and cakes, and gave them out to the entire village. It was a great celebration and a great honor for me and for the Palestinian people."
The May 1, 2007, issue included a "games" section with a virtual board game consisting of images of Israeli soldiers with snake bodies and tongues and caricatures of children throwing stones. Titled "The Palestinian kid and the Israeli soldier," the winner of this version of "Chutes and Ladders" is the player that reaches the Dome of the Rock first. The issue also featured a coloring book, a news brief listing the latest attacks on "Zionists soldiers" or "Jewish Settlers" and a section entitled "children of the stones," which is made up of pictures of children with guns and portraits of former Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Children are encouraged to contribute pictures for this section. Another section is dedicated to Mahmud Anwar al-Kilab, who is described as a "martyr" killed by an Israeli missile while trying to plant a bomb for an "ambush." A brief bio of al-Kilab, which includes a photo of him, concludes with the words: "To the eternal souls of the brave martyrs, Allah gathers them in Paradise above."
The March 1, 2006, issue highlights Hamas suicide bomber, Nassim Jabari, who participated in an August 2004 attack that killed 16 people in Israel. A poem next to the illustrated figure of a girl throwing stones from a slingshot in part reads: "The blood of the shahid has taught us/that martyrdom is like a new life…/and indeed martyrdom is an evident victory." The issue also includes a section titled "Essential News From The Palestinian Lands," which provides a summary of Palestinian casualties during fifteen days in February 2006.