Farfour was killed off, on the show,
by an Israeli character
A Palestinian TV channel has introduced a new and controversial character to one of its children's programmes.

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, gained access to al-Aqsa TV's guarded television studios.

The latest character on Hamas run al-Aqsa TV is Nahoul, a playful bee who takes the message about the Israeli occupation to young viewers.

Hazem al-Sharawi, the programme's editor, told Al Jazeera: "We want to connect the children with their surroundings and reality – to teach them about the occupation that stripped them of their land."

"We want to connect them to the Palestinian cause through facts and numbers."

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Nahoul replaced Farfour, a mouse who drew condemnation from some quarters for condoning armed resistance to Israeli occupation. Reason enough, for some, that he should be removed.

But Farfour also bore more than a passing resemblance to Mickey Mouse.

Al-Sharawi said: "With all this international fanfare about Farfour, we told the world that we didn't mean to steal this character – we just wanted to use a character that children liked."

Killed off

The character may have changed, but the
message has stayed the same
 
A few weeks ago, Farfour was killed off, on the show, by an Israeli character.

"Now we chose Nahoul because the bee has a good character – it's serious and organised and it's also mentioned in the holy Quran," said al-Sharawi.

But while the character may have changed, the message has stayed the same.

There are over ten private television stations operating in the Palestinian territories, in addition to state-run Palestine TV, but only al-Aqsa is owned and run by a political party and can reach an audience outside Palestine.

All Palestinian media outlets share a common threat however – most of them have been bombed or shut down by Israel at some point.

Al-Aqsa's transmitter was bombed by Israel shortly after it went on air, but the channel continued to broadcast by satellite.

Ideological importance

Nahoul, a bee, takes the message about
the Israeli occupation to young viewers
The TV station is important to Hamas as it provides viewers in Palestine and beyond access to the party's ideology and message, not just in political Islam but also in other social and educational fields.

Fathi Hammad, director of al-Aqsa TV, told Al Jazeera: "We're here to defend the Palestinian cause and remind the Palestinian people, especially those in the diaspora, about their principles as well as to expose the Israeli occupation and its criminal practices."

Samir Abu Muhsen, the programme's director, told Al Jazeera that more new characters were planned for the show.

"The coming characters that we're talking about will not be a substitute for Nahoul. They will be there to help him deliver our message and goal – of creating a child connected to his homeland and cause," he said.

Nahoul has only been on TV screens for a couple of weeks and it is still too early to judge how he is going down with his young viewers.

But after Hamas took over Gaza in June, forcing out the rival Fatah faction, the importance of such a media outlet cannot be underestimated.

Source: Al Jazeera