Gazan children play at getting into Al-Aqsa mosque

Board game with Hamas rockets and tunnels

18 July, 11:01

    (by Sami al-Ajrami) (ANSAmed) - GAZA, JULY 18 - Amid the impossibility of getting out of the Gaza Strip, children within it now can pretend to reach Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque in a new board game using only a dice and two pawns of any sort, even stones. For the low price of 2.5 shekels (60 euro cents), their parents can keep them busy during electricity-less days that are long and oppressive, hot and humid. Power is provided in the Gaza Strip for only a few hours a day. The game, called 'The Road to Jerusalem', is the brainchild of Muhammad Amriti, 33, former employee of the Hamas Al-Aqsa television station, where he was tasked with children's programs and cartoons. ''I had a rough childhood,'' Amriti told ANSA.

    His family, which backs Hamas, has been marked by repeated conflicts with Israel. Two of his brothers were killed (one by a rocket targeting him) and their home was bombed in 2014. The two players sit around a board with 100 squares along an itinerary that begins in Gaza, goes through several Israeli cities and then ends in Jerusalem and its holy sites.

    Some of the squares help the player to advance well beyond the number of the dice thrown. Those lucky enough to land on the 3rd cell jumps onto a Hamas missile and flies directly to the Israeli power station in Ashqelon, on square number 24. Another rocket leads from square number 58 in Galilee, all the way to Nazareth (82).

    On square number 36 there is instead the beginning of a Hamas military tunnel, used to go underground and come out on square number 67. However, if the player lands on squares where there are Israeli helicopters or tanks, they are forced back and the distance between them and Jerusalem grows. ''I aim to educate,''Amriti said. ''I am trying to instill in our children the love for the Al-Aqsa mosque and our holy places.'' He requested help from Hamas for the launch of the game but in vain. He then paid for 10,000 of the boards to be made, thousands of which have already been sold. ''Parents,'' he said, ''thank me for keeping their children occupied.'' Some adults that have grown bored with cards have begun to play as well. Amriti brushed off accusations voiced by an Israeli military spokesman that the game encourages Gazan children to be violent.

    ''If something is influencing them in that direction,'' he said, ''it is reality and not my board game.'' (ANSAmed).

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