In September 2000, the 2nd Intifada began when Ariel Sharon visited the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Mohammed, Ahmed, Yasser and Hussein are all teenagers; they spend most of their time on the frontline in Ramallah. In December, during the Ramadan, together with their friends from school, they went to the City-End to fight the Israeli forces who guard an army compound and a settlement.

Their struggle is dangerous, until now more than 100 teenagers have been killed and several thousands injured by live ammunition and rubber bullets. The hate against the Israelis is only a part of the story, it is also a game - and a dangerous one.


For Mohammed, it was a deadly game. Mohammed was killed on the 5th of December at City-End in Ramallah. Shot directly into the eye by a sniper with live ammunition. His father feared for his life and had told him not to go to the frontline and fight, Mohammed had promised him not to.

But Mohammed lived two different lives: one at home with his father and mother and two younger brothers, where he took care of his pigeons and helped his brothers building kites and where he discussed with his father plans for the future. The other part of his life was very aggressive: as one of the leaders of the boys at the frontline he started participating in the clashes day after day in December. He challenged the soldiers, going as close to them as possible, shouting what he thought of them. The other boys followed him – He began to be a problem – and it had to be solved. That happened on the 5 of dec. 2000. He died at the age of 15. The dream of an independent Palestine and being martyrs meant a lot to the boys. At school they used to talk about the cake that should be served if they were killed and what life as a martyr would be like. It seemed like none of them understood the fact that becoming a martyr meant being killed first.

For Ahmed, life at the frontline meant a break from the life at school and the fact that he has a severe hearing disability that gives him problems with the other boys at school. They didn’t understand what he said. He was often beaten up by the other kids in the street where he lives with his family.

At the frontline he is a hero, like Mohammed. The fact that he can’t hear when the soldiers shoot at him doesn’t bother him, and he likes being part of the brave ones. At the frontline no one cares about his language or his hearing problems: the other boys only see a 14 year old boy standing in the line of fire, throwing stones while the rubber bullets fly around him. Ahmed’s father knows that his son goes to the City-End to fight, and he is proud of his son: “My son’s life is not an easy one – We are poor and can’t afford a hearing aid for him! Neither my oldest son nor I have a job anymore because of the war. I know that the frontline is a dangerous place but it’s a war and my son is not only fighting for himself, he is also fighting for a free Palestine and a better life for all of us.”

Ahmed is a 14 year old frontline fighter with a child’s mind, he likes to go swimming at the “Panorama” swimming pool with his friends from City-End before the Friday prayer, he likes to dance, he would only like to be able to hear the music clearly.

Hussein and Mohammed were good friends. They come from the same village outside of Ramallah and they often used to go to the City-End together. The 5th December changed their lives; Hussein was at the front line when his friend was killed, and he helped to carry him to the ambulancechoking back his feelings. The following days the fighting intensified. Hussein became angry and very aggressive. A few days later he was shot, wounded by several live bullets in his back, and was brought to the hospital in Ramallah and then to the University hospital in Amman in Jordan. He is still in Jordan undergoing treatment.

Hussein was not really opened to anyone else than his friends – he was always at the front, but never laughing like the other boys, he was dedicated to the clashes and took it seriously when nothing happened at City-End.

Yasser is a street kid, even though his family has a big house in Ramallah. His father is old and doesn’t like his son: “My son is a dummy – He doesn’t like school and doesn’t want to work! He just goes to his mother and asks for money if he needs it!” he says. Yasser has been hit several times by rubber bullets, but he is not afraid of dying. “My future? I don’t have any!” he says. “Life for us is not worth living – unless we keep insisting on Palestine as our own state! That’s why I fight”.

In June, nothing much happened when I visited the boys in Ramallah, the clashes at City-End went on, but only on Fridays and for half an hour. Ahmed was selling popcorn at the market and still swimming at the “Panorama” on Fridays before the prayer.

Mohammed’s father is now taking care of Mohammed’s pigeons while his younger brothers practice throwing stones from the backside of their house. “My father doesn’t know that I go to City-End!”, Rami says. He is the oldest of Mohammed’s brothers and a member of a Tanzim group in Ramallah, where they teach small boys to be a part of the City-End boys.

Hussein is still at the hospital in Jordan and Yasser doesn’t want to talk to anyone anymore. “But don’t worry! The fight will go on!” Ahmed says. “This was my last season as a stone thrower. But others will take my place!” The dream of an Independent Palestine remains – between the young boys from Ramallah.

Jan Grarup and Rapho agency would like to thank Stern Magazine for their help and support to realize this report.

Jan Grarup

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