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24 Aug, 2007 04:12

Palestinian fighter gives his views on life - and death

The Israelis have issued a list of former ‘wanted’ men whom they say they are ready to forgive, in an effort to boost Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But for those not on the list, life continues to be an everyday struggle for survival.

Some of them are wanted, and others are wanted dead.
Every night Israeli Special Forces enter the cities of the West Bank.

When the sky turns dark, Abdul Kassam does not go to sleep. The 38-year-old commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade buried two friends this week.

For the Palestinian children in Jenin camp Abdul Kassam is a hero. At the same time, for the Israelis he’s a deadly killer with Jewish blood on his hands, whom they want dead.

“The Israelis are doing everything they can to kill me. If they find me here, they will blow up this whole area and kill everybody here including you. They want me only dead,” said Abdul Kassam, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade commander.

The only people Abdul Kassam can trust are his small unit – three youngsters, each with a gun and only a few bullets.

During the day they stay inside the Jenin camp, never remaining in one place longer than ten minutes.

“We don’t stay in one place because the Israelis’ spies will tell them where we are and they will come and arrest us, or kill us. When the Israelis come in their vehicles, we shoot,” explained Sheikh Iyad Fraihat, soldier in Abdul Kassam’s brigade.

But having state-of-the-art training, the Israelis are shooting with sophisticated weapons too.

“I studied my profession on the streets because the Israelis are always in the camp. Street fighting is the best university, better than any Israeli school,” noted Abdul Kassam.

In the last five days the Israelis have killed nine Palestinian fighters. In this game of cat-and-mouse, they have the upper hand.

“I am prepared to die. I teach my sons to fight the Israelis. If I die, my sons will continue to fight them,” added Abdul Kassam.

Every child in the refugee camp of Jenin dreams of growing up to be a fighter like Abdul Kassam. What this means, unfortunately, is that the conflict is likely to continue for generations to come.