IMRA interviewed Hakim Awad, the head of Fatah Youth in the West Bank and Gaza, in Hebrew and English, on May 24:

IMRA: It was reported that last Thursday a group of Fatah Youth completed a two week course in weapons training and combat technique. Was this a one time course or will there be more.

Awad: You have made a big thing out of this. This was one course. It was normal. Nothing dangerous. Like you talk about summer camp or youth camp. Normal exercises. Maybe there is a second or third course.

You have to understand that it is a normal thing. Its an ordinary youth activity.

IMRA: Learning how to shoot guns.

Awad: It is an ordinary activity. There are exercises with weapons but you can’t call it a program. You have to know that all the time there is talk for the Israeli side ‘we want to go into Gaza and the West Bank and if the Palestinians don’t do what we want.’ All the time the Israelis are talking about attacking the West Bank and Gaza.

You have to know that as the Palestinian youth we are defending the peace. the just peace. And as the leader of Fatah youth in the West Bank and Gaza I have attended hundreds of meetings with Israel’s you the organizations like Labor Youth, Peace Now, Mapam. Not only in Israel or Gaza or the West Bank. We organized for several meeting in a Scandinavian country and Europe and other places in the world.

We try to defend the peace all the time but at the same time, all the time we are hearing what Netanyahu is saying. Both sides have to respect the agreement. It wasn’t just signed between the sides. It is an international agreement. All the sides have to respect it.

We are looking for just peace for both sides – the Palestinian side and the Israeli side. We ask the Israeli Government to respect the agreements but at the same time we are hearing the declarations from Binyamin Netanyahu warning the Palestinian side that they have plans to attack the West Bank and Gaza.

As a Palestinian we have to protect the Palestinian National Authority, because it is the whole Palestinian people here.

IMRA: So that’s why you have the training.

Awad: Its not the reason. As I told you, its ordinary training. Its not military training. You can say that part of the training is military training. For one time. Its not a program. I don’t think that there’s is another course.

IMRA: I guess what puzzles me is that under the Oslo Agreement there are only 7,000 guns in Gaza and 18,000 police. That mean that you already have more than twice as many police as guns. What value is there to teach other people how to use guns when there aren’t even enough guns to go around for the police?

Awad: If I have a summer camp and the young people have training in sports and other activities like swimming and one of these activities is guns and military activity this is like having a group from the Israeli side – university or high school to go to an Israeli army camp to have some knowledge about that. its the same thing exactly.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645