Abu Haroon, a black-clad bearded militant from the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, placed a Kalashnikov automatic rifle in the hands of his nephew. The rifle was twice as big as the child.
“Remember, as I may not be coming back: Learn to use this against the enemy one day,” he said, giving the boy a farewell cuddle.
“I am proud of you, my son. Sometimes, it is necessary to kill,” said Haroon, handing his son dates freshly picked from the tree towering over a small house in this densely populated town — one of the main centers of clashes in the intifada that started seven years ago.
A veteran of the conflict with Israel, Haroon said he first threw stones at soldiers as an 11-year-old, then began firing bullets in 2000, the start of the second intifada, and soon learned the dark arts of rocket preparation and dispatch.
After his farewells, four armed men in balaclavas joined Haroon, prayed on mats stretched out beside their weapons, and climbed into a white jeep. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon. They drove off northward, an al Samoud rocket carefully concealed with an oily cloth in the back of their battered white sport utility vehicle.
“We have orders not to fire any rockets on Tuesday because of the Annapolis summit, but we can resume normal activities after the summit ends,” Haroon explained, claiming he is totally loyal to the political leadership of Fatah.