GAZA CITY - The Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV channel plans to release a series of cartoons portraying Palestinian security forces in the West Bank as boot-licking lackeys of Israel, a network official said Tuesday.
The cartoons will be modelled on a six-minute pilot in which a character wearing the uniform of Western-backed security forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is portrayed as a mindless toady of bloodthirsty Israelis.
"We are preparing films and cartoons to broadcast on Al-Aqsa at the start of next month focusing on the disgraceful practices of the (Palestinian) Authority," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Hamas and Abbas's secular Fatah movement have been bitterly divided since the Islamist group's bloody seizure of Gaza in June 2007, which confined Abbas's authority to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Since then the two groups have accused each other of arbitrary arrests, torture and persecution as unity talks have repeatedly collapsed.
Hamas has lashed out at Abbas's security forces for cracking down on armed groups in the West Bank, accusing them of serving Israel's interests.
In the pilot cartoon, entitled "A Special Mission" and first aired earlier this month, the main character, named Bahlul (Arabic for buffoon), shines an Israeli soldier's boots and kisses his feet when ordered to do so.
The character tells the Israeli soldier his job is to "protect the settlements in the West Bank" and says he would arrest his relatives, shoot his brother or divorce his wife if the Israelis ordered him to.
In a later scene, Bahlul watches as a Jewish character massacres a group of West Bank children and drinks their blood. "You killed our children before my eyes. I will respond with even more peace," he says.
The network official said the popularity of the pilot encouraged the channel to produce more cartoons.
"The first programme was widely circulated and had a high number of viewers," he said. "We received hundreds of letters from inside and outside (Gaza) asking for the programme to be shown again."
Al-Aqsa has regularly aired graphic television programmes glorifying attacks on Israel, including a children's show in which a Mickey Mouse-like character was "martyred" by being beaten to death by Israelis.
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