This Reuters report sheds more light on how tiny the minority of extremists is, at least among Palestinians. (Thanks to Nicolei). It’s the story of a print shop in Jenin:
The grimy, dimly-lit shop is one of two in Jenin that print what are known as “martyr” posters, which eulogise Palestinians who have killed or been killed in the conflict with Israel and cover almost every wall in town.
Since the Palestinian uprising began in 2000, they have become a regular feature of life across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where they even adorn hospitals and classrooms.
Nowhere is this unsettling art form more visible than in Jenin and its refugee quarter, a militant stronghold seething with hostility towards Israel for its crushing military assault in 2002 and numerous raids since.
“If this continues, we will run out of wall space for our martyrs,” said Mohammed Abu Hammad, leader of the Jenin cell of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. . . .
Israel sees the glorified images of gunmen plastered throughout this poor town of 40,000 as incitement to further attacks, a point some Palestinians readily acknowledge. . . .
A typical poster features a photograph of the grimly staring deceased posing with an assault rifle superimposed against the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem or a picture of Muslims kneeling in prayer. The images are often surrounded by Koranic verses and lavish praise written in Arabic script. . . .
If the dead person is a militant, his faction commissions the work. Al Aqsa is his biggest repeat customer. It picks the photo. The family has no say. When a non-combatant is killed, a coalition of local Islamic charities pays for the print run. . . .
Like many Palestinians, Abu Hamza sees suicide attacks not as terrorism — as does Israel and much of the international community — but as resistance to the occupation of Arab land.
In his work, he draws no distinction between suicide bombers who target Israeli civilians, gunmen killed fighting Israeli soldiers and unarmed bystanders shot dead during tank raids.
“Each one is a sacred ‘shahid’,” Abu Hamza said, using the Arabic word for martyr, defined by Islam as one who dies during “jihad”, or holy war, a guarantee of instant entry to paradise.
Hanging on a wall above his printing press is a poster of a former schoolmate who blew himself up in 2001 in a bomb-laden car he and an accomplice tried to crash into a bus.
With ink-stained hands, Abu Hamza waved away the question of whether he felt any sympathy for the 60 people wounded. But he said: “I cried for my friend while I made his poster.”
Once a poster goes up, no Palestinian will dare take it down because of fear of how the militants might respond.
Israeli troops raiding the town have left their mark, sometimes daubing Stars of David across pictures of dead gunmen. Wind and rain have also taken a toll.
Mindful of how Israelis regard his work, Abu Hamza, recently married and thinking of having children, keeps his guard up.
Three months ago, soldiers ransacked his shop searching for information on the militant groups he does business with.
They found nothing. “I keep the plates and proofs hidden but within easy reach. You never know when I might need them.”