PMW report slams Palestinian Authority for using child soldiers

Does UNICEF confront the issue?

A Palestinian boy carries a tire during a protest marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day), at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City June 8, 2018. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)
A Palestinian boy carries a tire during a protest marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day), at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City June 8, 2018.
The Palestinian Authority’s systematic incitement in school textbooks, television broadcasts, active recruitment and payment to terrorists’ after-the-crime serves to weaponize its child population into soldiers, says a new NGO report obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post.
While other Israeli groups have also worked on this issue, Palestinian Media Watch’s (PMW) Sunday report is unique in tracing the PA’s recruitment step-by-step to explain why a substantial number of Palestinian minors end up arrested by Israel.
Contrary to conventional global media wisdom that the Israeli occupation is causing innocent Palestinian minors to become violent, the PMW report, which covers 2019, says that PA incitement is the primary cause.
“Damningly, PMW’s report shows how the PA leadership openly admits that child terrorists are the PA’s soldiers,” said the report.
Moreover, the report's authors, PMW Director Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch, submitted a letter to UNICEF demanding that it name the PA’s violations and invest at least as much time in documenting these violations as it has regarding alleged Israeli violations of Palestinian minors’ rights.
UNICEF responded to the report telling the Post that it has filed submissions with the relevant UN human rights bodies, “highlighting areas where further work is needed to ensure all Palestinian children are provided with the necessary conditions to reach their full potential.”
Summarizing its position on the issue, UNICEF told the Post that “Children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict in Israel and the State of Palestine. UNICEF advocates with all parties to put the interests of children first.
“This involves advocating with Palestinian authorities on shortcomings, making clear that no child should be enlisted to violence and advocating with Israel to make sure children are not targeted by violence. In the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict Bulletin for 2018, which can be found on UNICEF’s website, the UN documents verified incidents by all sides,” UNICEF said.
“For example, in this report three cases of recruitment and use of Palestinian children in the conflict are included,” UNICEF added, explaining that an even-handed critique of both the Israeli and Palestinian side (even naming specific groups which are recruiting Palestinian minors) were part of UNICEF’s contribution to a 2018 report by the UN Secretary General.
Reviewing this response, PMW’s Hirsch said that UNICEF has only named Hamas or other Palestinian groups that are not affiliated with the PA, while carefully avoiding any confrontation with the latter.
Asked if it has publicly taken the PA to task for exploiting Palestinian minors, UNICEF did not issue an additional response.
PMW added that in the past, UNICEF has avoided naming the PA because allegations against the PA “did not meet the definition of recruitment or due to access reasons and the security of witnesses,” and that children had occasionally been paid to make Molotov cocktails and transport weapons in the Gaza Strip, but “it could not be verified if this activity was organized by a party to the conflict.”
PMW clarified that UNICEF was taking an unduly narrow interpretation of its mandate out of fear of confrontation with the PA, but that such an approach does not help solve the underlying issue of Palestinian minors involved in violence.
The report said that “In 2019, the PA continued its systematic and widespread abuse of the Palestinian children, indoctrinating them to hate Jews and Israel, brainwashing them to admire murders and using them to promote violence.”
A children’s program on official PA TV broadcasts shows in which seven-year-old girls recite poems saying “I learned… the art of the rifle... [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas... my blood is your blood,” said the report.
The report said that Abbas’s Fatah Party broadcasts stories of mothers telling their children that “My son, we were not created for happiness. In my eyes, you are meant for Martyrdom! Jerusalem is ours, our weapon is our Islam and our ammunition is our children.”
The PA schoolbooks, the report noted, teach Palestinian children to emulate the Palestinian “heroes” who include mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi – a terrorist responsible for killing 37 Jews, among them 12 children.
Summer camps organized by Abbas’s Fatah party and the Palestine Liberation Organization teach the children to admire mass murderers such as Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) – who according to PA sources is responsible for killing 125 Jews, said the report.
According to the report, school is regularly cut short to encourage Palestinian minors to take part in potentially violent protests against IDF soldiers.
Next, the report said that “Having acted in accordance with the PA guidance, the child-terrorist-soldiers, once arrested, injured or killed, then enjoy the substantial monthly salaries that the PA pays them or their families and the adulation of Palestinian society.”
Moreover, the PA has stated numerous times that it sees all Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails as soldiers and prisoners of war, and has never differentiated between adults and children.
During every month of 2019, the PA paid Khalil Jabarin – the Palestinian minor who murdered Ari Fuld – NIS 1,400, and paid Morad Adais – the Palestinian minor who murdered Dafna Meir – NIS 2,000.
The report cites numerous additional examples.
Returning to how UNCIEF could improve the situation, Marcus explained, “If UNICEF had any serious concern for Palestinian children, it would not criticize Israel for arresting child terrorists, but would thoroughly condemn the PA for creating child terrorists. The indoctrination, brainwashing and rewarding of child terrorists by the PA is clear child abuse by the PA leaders.”