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Yassaer Arafat Shahid

Yasser Arafat's Message to Children
- "Be a Shahid":
Arafat explains that dead Palestinian children- Shahids - are “the greatest message to the world”. [PA TV Jan. 15, 2002]
Palestine Media Watch


[The Simon Wiesenthal Center has demanded that the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), denounce the recruitment of juveniles for acts of terrorism, and, that it galvanize child advocacy groups worldwide to act against those who incite, entrap or otherwise abuse children as their agents of death for any cause, anywhere around the world.]

Child suicide bomberJanuary 16, 2003

Palestinian terrorist groups have been increasingly using children as human shields, gunmen, and suicide bombers.
This claim, which has long been maintained by Israel, was finally recognised by the United Nations.

See Video: Seeds of Hatred

At 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.[1]

“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,” he said[2].

The 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 Convention’s 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.[3]

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 Hizbollah’s weekly journal
uncovered new evidence of Palestinian children’s active involvement in terrorist activity earlier this year in the Jenin refugee camp. The children were questioned by a reporter from the Hizbollah’s 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.[4]

Child suicide bomberChildren 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 in Hebron.

In 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 public image.[5]

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[6].

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”[7].

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 to die…I wanted to go back to my family.” The boy’s 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…” [8]

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 Israel’s 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.

See Video: Seeds of Hatred

January 16, 2003


[1] United Nations Press Release SC/7631

[2] Jerusalem Post, January 15 2003.

[3] “The Recruitment of Children in Current Palestinian Strategy”, Justus Weiner, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

[4] http://www.idf.il/newsite/english/1125-2.stm

[5] Human Rights Watch Report 2003

[6] Prime Minister's Office, “Inciting and Educating Children Towards Hate, Anti-Semitism and Violence in the Palestinian Authority”, Special Report by Dani Naveh

[7] BBC News, July 18 2001

[8] World Net Daily, April 24 2002





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