terrorist groups have been increasingly using children as human shields,
gunmen, and suicide bombers.
claim, which has long been maintained by Israel, was finally recognised
by the United Nations.
a UN Security Council debate on January 14 2003, which focused on measures
to protect children in armed conflict, Olara Otunnu, Under-Secretary-General
and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed
Conflict, condemned Palestinian suicide bombings as destructive to both
Israeli and Palestinian children and called on the Palestinian authorities
to do everything within their powers to stop all participation by children
in the conflict.
The use of suicide bombing is entirely unacceptable. Nothing can
justify this, said Otunnu at the opening of Tuesday's day-long
session. We have witnessed both ends of these acts: children have
been used as suicide bombers and children have been killed by suicide
bombings. I call on the Palestinian authorities to do everything within
their powers to stop all participation by children in this conflict,
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Paragraph 38, prohibits children
under the age of fifteen from taking a direct part in hostilities. The
proscribed age was raised to eighteen by the Conventions Optional
Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which entered
into force on 12 February 2002. While the PA is not formally bound by
international human rights conventions, it is required by the Oslo agreements
to honour internationally accepted norms of human rights and the
rule of law. (Wye River Memorandum).
Israel has continually highlighted the issue of the exploitation
of children and minors for terror. There is considerable evidence
of the Palestinian Authority inciting children towards violence and educating
them toward hatred. The Palestinian Authority has intentionally mobilised
Palestinian children to man the front line in its struggle against Israel,
frequently using them as shields in order to protect Palestinian gunmen.
Sending children to carry out terrorist attacks illustrates the cynical
usage of naive children and adolescents by the PA and Palestinian terrorist
organisations. It is a phenomenon widely practiced since the beginning
of the uprising.
The most recent example of this phenomenon occurred on January
11 2003, when two Palestinian youths, aged 14 and 17, infiltrated the
community of Netzarim in the Northern Gaza Strip, armed with knifes. During
a confrontation with the IDF the two were apprehended.
A report published in November by the Hizbollahs weekly journal
uncovered new evidence of Palestinian childrens active involvement
in terrorist activity earlier this year in the Jenin refugee camp. The
children were questioned by a reporter from the Hizbollahs journal
and confessed to him that they had been involved in the manufacturing
of weapons and ammunition, and that they had actively participated in
the fighting alongside armed terrorists.
carrying weapons or dressed up as suicide bombers have been frequently
seen at rallies and marches in the West Bank and the Gaza. The
most shocking example of this was in June 2002, when the newspapers carried
the shocking photograph of a Palestinian infant proudly dressed up as
a suicide bomber. The photograph was discovered in the family album of
a wanted Palestinian, whose house was raided this week by Israeli forces
September 2002, the Palestinian Journalists Association
sought to ban media coverage of children participating in political demonstrations,
in an attempt to cover up the phenomenon and minimise the damage to Palestinian
The PA and terrorist organisations have facilitated the use of children
by using government-controlled media, summer camp programmes, and nursery
schools to indoctrinate Palestinian children for armed confrontation with
Israel. A 6th grade Palestinian textbook, Our beautiful language
includes the Shahid song, encouraging death in war in the
role of a shahid, a martyr.
The Islamic Jihad terrorist group runs a summer school to teach the benefits
of becoming suicide bombers. The children are told that it is
good to kill and die, that suicide bomb attacks have proved the most effective
way to hit Israelis and that martyrs are guaranteed a place in heaven.
According to Mohammed el Hattab, a teacher in a summer school, We
are teaching the children that suicide bombing is the only thing that
make the Israeli people very frightened. Furthermore, we are teaching
them that we have the right to do it.
In this context, it is worth examining statements made on Israel's Channel
2, by a 14 year-old would-be suicide killer. Sent on a suicide mission
against an Israeli military position, he turned back I didn't want
I wanted to go back to my family. The boys mother,
who also participated in the interview, added: They take our children
when they are too young to understand, to decide if they want to die
While Israeli children are enrolled in an educational system based on
values such as: peace, democracy, tolerance and the value of life, many
Palestinian children have, up until now, been raised on the basis of hatred,
a desire to kill Jews and non-recognition of the State of Israels
right to exist. The Palestinian Authority has not taken serious measures
to combat this phenomenon, It is to be hoped with the election of their
new leader, Abu Mazen, that serious steps will be taken to change this,
and that Palestinian children can look forward to a better and more secure
future, no longer encouraged to sacrifice their lives with a false promise
of “martyrdom”. That incitement to become suicide bombers
has been the worst form of child abuse, indeed, a crime against humanity.
and continues to turn a blind eye to the Palestinian boys and girls victimised
as self sacrifice on behalf of the entire Palestinian society.
It is disturbing and sad to see that in the year 2003 there are children
in the Palestinian Authority who are raised and educated to hate and are
manipulated by terrorist organisations for lethal violence. If there is
to be any chance of real reform in the Palestinian Authority and of a
future in which Palestinian and Israeli children share their lives together
in peace, the Palestinian leadership must put an end to the cynical use
it makes of children.
January 16, 2003
 United Nations Press Release SC/7631
 Jerusalem Post, January 15 2003.
 The Recruitment of Children in Current Palestinian
Strategy, Justus Weiner, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
 Human Rights Watch Report 2003
 Prime Minister's Office, Inciting and Educating
Children Towards Hate, Anti-Semitism and Violence in the Palestinian Authority,
Special Report by Dani Naveh
 BBC News, July 18 2001
 World Net Daily, April 24 2002