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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Two years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Palestinian children, Israeli and Arab peace activists look across razor wire barrier at Israeli soldiers at West Bank checkpoint
Peace looks further away than ever

Saturday marks the second anniversary of the Palestinian uprising.

It is 24 months since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's controversial walkabout on one of Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites, the Temple Mount.

Palestinian boy wearing the Palestinian flag throws stones at Israeli tank
Palestinian Amal says "as long as there is occupation, resistance must continue"
In the period since, Palestinian stone-throwing has turned into suicide bombing, and Israel has moved from machine guns to F-16s and tanks.

Israeli troops have re-occupied virtually the entire West Bank.

The Palestinian leader is a captive in his own headquarters, and the dream of a Palestinian state looks as far away as ever.

More than 1,500 Palestinians and 600 Israelis have also been killed.

I asked two bereaved mothers for their assessments of the past two years.

Famous victim

Beneath framed pictures of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein, Amal al-Dura sits and grieves on a white plastic chair, her hands moving occasionally to her stomach.

I miss him all the time, when I go to the market I remember how Mohammed used to come with me

Amal al-Durrah
In two months time, this Palestinian mother will bring a new son into the world.

He will be named Muhammad after a brother he will never know - the intifada's most famous victim.

Twelve-year-old Muhammad died in a hail of bullets cowering behind his father's back. Which side killed him is still in dispute.

His final terrifying moments were captured on film, played and replayed around the world.

This dead boy is still remembered, unlike so many others killed since.

On the street corners around his family's modest house in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza, every wall bears his face.

His image is etched on every makeshift house.

Eternal war

The camp is a patchwork of dusty neglected streets.

Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Durrah shelters behind his father
Muhammad's terrifying final moments were captured on film
It still looks temporary, though it has stood here for decades. This is the only home Muhammad ever knew.

"These two years have passed like two days," Amal tells me.

"I cry all the time. I've tried to go out, to wedding parties, but I can't be happy like everyone else. I miss him all the time.

"When I go to the market I remember how Muhammad used to come with me."

She is counting down the days to the birth of the new son who will bear his name.

"I hope he will have a better life, that there will be peace and no intifada. But the situation is getting worse. I swear that this war will go on forever," she says.

'Resistance must continue'

I ask her: Would she want this boy to fight the Israelis when he grows up?

Hamas militant
Amal says if her unborn son wanted to fight in the intifada she would not mind

"If he felt in the future that he wanted to participate in the intifada, I wouldn't mind," she replies.

"As long as there is occupation, resistance must continue.

"I don't push my kids to go out to join in the intifada. The land is calling them to do so. Kids watch TV and analyse the situation for themselves. They don't wait for someone to analyse it for them.

"For them the picture is clear. The scary thing is when they get older, I don't know what they are going to be," she adds.

For Amal, the reason for all this is clear; the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

I tell her where we were headed next, back to Jerusalem to meet an Israeli mother who had also lost her son.

"I send my condolences," she says. "But I ask Israeli mothers why they are not out demonstrating, calling for independence for the Palestinians, and to get Sharon out of power.

"Let us live in peace together," she adds.

Return to Jerusalem

In her welcoming, well-tended home in Jerusalem Anat Yedid Levy is also mourning her son, killed in December last year.

I don't want my kid to be in heaven, I want him here

Anat Yedid Levy
She says the grief is worse now because of the Jewish holidays which fall at this time.

"We hate holidays," she says, "and we hate the weekends".

Moshe was just 19-years-old when he was killed, a student who went out on the town on a Saturday night and was killed in a double suicide bombing.

"He should have been joining the army this week," she says.

"Moshe was a very intelligent boy, very bright. He loved living and he had many plans for the future.

Anat Yedid Levy
Anat says peace is now impossible
"I have other kids and I am really scared for them, I fear for them."

I ask if she could even imagine peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"It's impossible," she says. "I don't think there is any hope left. You cannot be an optimist here.

"We cannot leave the territories and give back land as we were prepared to before. The only way ahead now is a big war," she adds.

'A different culture'

Anat sees no fault on the Israeli side, no responsibility for the bloodshed of the past two years.

"Only one man is to blame," she says.

"Yasser Arafat. He has always loved blood, always wanted to kill, always hated the Israelis. And he has nothing to worry about. His family is not here. His wife and daughter are in France."

I told Anat about Amal's message.

"Have you any sympathy for the bereaved Palestinian mothers?" I ask.

Her answer was swift and firm. "No," she said. "I have no sympathy for them.

"They have a different culture, this martyrdom culture. They celebrate when their children are killed, they give out candies.

"They believe that their children are in heaven. That's where they get their joy.

"I don't want my kid to be in heaven. I want him here," he adds.

Amal and Anat are almost the same age, both robbed of their sons, both fearful of the future.

But apart from their grief, they share only one conviction, that the future already belongs to war.

Key stories




See also:

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