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'Exploitation of Palestinian children as weapons of war begins from birth'
Photo: AFP
The Palestinian war on children
Op-ed: Depraved exploitation and abuse of children as targets and weapons will not end so long as UN, members of international community and NGOs continue to enable these atrocities.
The Israeli public is in collective agony and mourning over the abduction and murder of teenagers Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah.

 

In contrast, the Palestinian public has widely celebrated the crime, adopting a three-fingered salute honoring the "heroic" perpetrators, mocking grieving family members on social media, and passing out candy.

 

 

Condemnations by Palestinian Authority officials were rare. As appalling as these responses are, they are emblematic of the Palestinian war strategy of which the targeting and exploitation of children is an integral part.

 

The Palestinian tactic of targeting children is not new, but there are unfortunately plenty of recent examples: In 2011, Hamas launched a heat seeking missile at an Israeli school bus, killing a 16-year old boy. In 2010, Palestinian terrorists associated with the PFLP murdered five members of the Fogel family, including stabbing to death two small children and decapitating a three-month old baby. In 2008, a Palestinian gunman walked into a Jerusalem school and open fired on children studying in the library, murdering eight. In 2004, Gazan terrorists affiliated with Islamic Jihad shot at point blank range and killed Tali Hatuel, eight-months pregnant, along with her four young daughters aged two to 10.

 

Palestinian terrorists have long made a point of detonating suicide bombers in pizza shops, buses, weddings, bar mitzvah celebrations and malls to inflict the most casualties as possible on the defenseless. Like the reaction to the June kidnappings, outrage from the Palestinian community for these atrocities was rare, if expressed at all.

 

The Palestinian assault on children, however, does not end with Israelis. The exploitation of Palestinian children as weapons of war begins from birth. Pictures abound of Palestinian babies dressed as suicide bombers and brandishing arms.

 

Children’s TV programs, many sponsored by the Palestinian Authority itself, preach jihad, advocate genocide against Jews and infidels, and glorify martyrdom. A young girl on a program recently aired on Hamas TV was encouraged by the host to be in the police when she grew up so that she could "shoot Jews … all of them."

 

After years of being educated with incitement, Palestinian pre-teens are then pressed into service by "popular committees" to engage in riots and violent confrontations with Israeli soldiers. Older kids are sent to hurl firebombs and slingshot projectiles. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah’s Martyrs Brigades enlist teens to be suicide bombers and to commit other atrocities on Israeli civilians. Even rock-throwing, which has often been deadly, puts Palestinian minors at risk for arrest and jail time.

 

UN looks the other way

In addition to turning them into combatants, Palestinians deliberately place children at risk from Israeli counter-terror measures by co-locating weapons and terror infrastructure inside schools, hospitals and mosques. Terrorists adorn civilian dress and launch rockets and other weapons from within civilian areas to maximize loss during retaliatory attacks, which will increase the propaganda effect.

 

Many children have been killed by these strategies, including, last week, when a three-year old girl was killed by a misfired Palestinian rocket that was aimed at Israeli population centers.

 

The most shocking aspect of this deliberate disregard for children’s lives, however, is the blind eye turned to it by the UN, the EU, and so-called human rights organizations.

 

The perpetual dictator’s club that is the UN, and officials there, look the other way, and even in some cases praise these abuses as "resistance."

 

Support from the EU and European governments funds TV programs and other media that perpetuate terrorist indoctrination and incitement. The EU also partners, through NGO projects, with the Palestinian Struggle Coordinating Committee, responsible for organizing protests that frequently turn violent.

 

According to media reports, European largesse has also been used by the PA to pay salaries to convicted terrorists serving their sentences in prison.

 

NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issue obscenely weak condemnations of these violations against children, generally burying them in lengthy publications accusing Israel of war crimes. Calls for accountability or an end to impunity for terror perpetrators are rarely made. Measures such as universal jurisdiction lawsuits and boycott campaigns (the NGOs’ weapons of choice against Israel) are never wielded against Palestinians.

 

Such complicity only emboldens future acts and represents the total inversion of morality, human rights and law.

 

The depraved exploitation and abuse of children as targets and weapons by Palestinians must end. Yet, they will not end these abominable tactics so long as the UN, members of the international community, and NGOs continue to enable these atrocities.

 

Anne Herzberg is the legal advisor of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.

 

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