Another boy martyr inflames Palestinian passions

Funeral
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The Independent Online

Sami Abu Jazar was fatally injured with his school bag still strapped to his back. A photographer captured the moment just after an Israeli bullet entered the 12-year-old's skull, leaving a gaping wound in his forehead.

Sami Abu Jazar was fatally injured with his school bag still strapped to his back. A photographer captured the moment just after an Israeli bullet entered the 12-year-old's skull, leaving a gaping wound in his forehead.

The picture appeared on the front pages of many of the world's newspapers on Wednesday. Later, the pictures were of Sami on his hospital bed, the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat bending to kiss his tear-stained face.

Yesterday Sami was buried in Gaza in an outpouring of Palestinian grief and anger. After two days on life support, but brain dead, his swollen eyes closed and his bandaged head tilted to one side, Sami's heart stopped beating early in the morning, the machine was switched off - and he becamethe latest boy martyr of the Palestinian uprising.

Sami was the 24th child victim of the past two weeks of violence. Images of the funeral were shown repeatedly on television across the Occupied Territories throughout the day. Emotions can have been only heightened by the pictures, just as the images of the death of another 12-year-old, Mohammed al-Durah, turned him into an emblem of the conflict.

Mohammed's final moments were captured by television cameras, first as he cowered behind his father, anguish and terror showing on his face, and then slumped on the ground.

Sami was shot on Tuesday. His family say his backpack proved that he was an innocent child returning from school, not part of a Palestinian mob provoking Israeli soldiers into retaliation. Inevitably the events surrounding his death will always be disputed.

The Israelis say that their soldiers fired at a crowd of rioters at an outpost at Rafah on Gaza's southern border with Egypt. The crowd were throwing petrol bombs, which according to the rules of engagement observed by the Israeli security forces are deadly weapons and justify a lethal response. The family say he was the little boy from a farming family, his dream to make a living from growing flowers and selling them.

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