Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Despair and Rage Among Gaza's Youth

BBC News, February 27, 2009 - The flags of militant groups - Hamas, Islamic Jihad - flutter outside among the densely packed cinder-block houses of Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp.

The area is a key haunt of the factions behind the rocket attacks that Israel's recent assault on Gaza was aimed at ending.

Its frustrated, mainly unemployed youths are prime recruitment targets for the militants.

But as the young men, sitting in coats in the unheated room, mull over Israel's 22-day operation, despair is as common a theme as revenge.

About half of the group say they have been members of armed groups at some point. Others now say they want to join.

I used to keep away from military activity," says student Ahmad al-Khateeb, 21. "I wanted to graduate and leave the country. I was sometimes afraid of death".

But now, unable to sit his exams because his ID papers are buried under the rubble of his home, he says his views have "completely changed".

Sports science student Mohammad al-Mukayed, 22, says he saw three children killed by an airstrike as they played in the street just meters away from him.

"They were just pieces of flesh. I wanted to help but I couldn't. I do think of joining a group. I would rather be killed defending my land than die like these kids, doing nothing."....

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