Who are they?
One generation of Palestinian fighters after the other take part in a struggle that seems to have no end. What brings these men to join?
Since they are off limits in wartime and their secretive organizations provide only little access it is hard to give them a name and understand more about their background.
The decision of becoming a militiaman slowly develops through personal experiences of conflicts and loss but it is also the result of social and cultural pressures, the need of a role in a society.
The brigades in Gaza nurture a sense of belonging that since a young age can be found in the groups. They developed a way of representing themselves to young Palestinians and to the world and through this imagery they keep alive the memory of their heroes and their enemies.
Many of these fighters have friends and family members who are in prison or died along their same path. But even the family of the “martyrs”, the ones who experienced the real consequences of the armed struggle often don’t show any regret, at least publicly.
Some civilians in Gaza, still supports the militias, but there are also some who have no faith left in the divided Palestinian political landscape and bitterly disagree with armed groups’ policies. Especially the ones who are still living among the rubbles of their own house a year after the conflict.
Then comes the real experience of war, the loss of friends and the close encounter with death. It is difficult to understand where propaganda and indoctrination ends and where their real feelings begin when fighters talk about death. They say they aren’t scared; they are committed to martyrdom, they will be happy to die. Some of them imagine at the same time a peaceful future with a wife and kids, a place in time where war will end and they will go back to a normal life. The older ones among them, however, seem overtly aware that they have taken a path with no return.