The Palestinian Authority's child soldier strategy against Israel - opinion

With the PA feeding Palestinian children a steady diet of child soldier promotion, when the PA launches its terror waves it has a cadre of children ready to be called to action.

 GIRLS WITH automatic rifles lead Fatah’s anniversary parade as seen, according to Palestinian Media Watch, on the official Fatah Facebook page. (photo credit: PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH)
GIRLS WITH automatic rifles lead Fatah’s anniversary parade as seen, according to Palestinian Media Watch, on the official Fatah Facebook page.
(photo credit: PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH)

If you want to know what is really at the heart of the Palestinian conflict with Israel, don’t ask the politicians or the diplomats. Go to the real experts: Palestinian children. Unlike the rest of the world, they’ve been paying close attention to what their leaders and educators have been teaching them – and they’re already signing their lessons in blood.

Children interviewed on PA TV for years have been echoing the messages they have been taught by the PA and Fatah: that Israel has no right to exist, and that their goal – for which they are anxious to sacrifice their lives – is Israel’s destruction.

Twelve-year-old Abd, who lives in a refugee camp just outside the PA capital of Ramallah, explained his life goals on PA TV: “The Jews stole our land from us and I have been waiting 12 years already… and my grandfather has been waiting 70 years… I hope to return to Lod, my city… I feel that tomorrow I will return and liberate Palestine… Every day, every minute, and every year I imagine that I’m in Lod...” (PA TV, November 3, 2020 and May 23, 2021)

Lod is an Israeli city not far from Tel Aviv. The child lives near Ramallah, but Lod he says is “my city.”

Surprising? Not if you’ve been following the PA education of its children. Palestinian children are indoctrinated to believe that they are victims of Israel’s existence from birth (“I have been waiting 12 years already”). The PA Ministry of Education recently included a giant map of “Palestine” that erased all of Israel in an event at a PA school. The words on the poster were explicit: “Palestine – the entire land is ours, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River.” (Facebook, PA Ministry of Education, November 16, 2021)

Palestinian children learn Islamic lessons on summer vacation as COVID-19 restrictions ease in Gaza. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)Palestinian children learn Islamic lessons on summer vacation as COVID-19 restrictions ease in Gaza. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

What about Israel’s right to exist? It is non-existent in the PA child’s world. Palestinian children are taught that Israelis are “foreigners who came from all ends of the earth, foreigners who did not know Palestine and did not live in it – neither them nor their fathers and forefathers.” (Fatah’s Waed children’s magazine, Issue 36)

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that each of the following terms exist in Fatah’s children’s education to refer to Israel: “Thieving Zionist entity,” “thieving occupation,” “your enemy,” “Zionist criminals,” “Zionist gangs,” “Zionist thieves,” and “Jewish invaders.” With this PA/Fatah brainwashing the Palestinian children’s hatred of Israel is embedded, justified, and remains a permanent fixture of their consciousness, not because of Israel’s borders and not because of what Israel does, but because Israel exists.

Why is the boy so self-confident that he will “liberate Palestine”? Because the Palestinian endgame presented to children is nothing less than the destruction of Israel: “Over thousands of years… [Palestinians had] thousands of victories over whoever was enticed to think of invading… There is no invader who invaded this land and did not leave it defeated in the end, and that is what will happen to the Zionist invaders.” (Waed, Issue 27)

What about the Jews who are currently in Israel? They will be gone as well: “After 132 years of colonialism… the number of French settlers in Algeria stood at approximately a million, and they all fled to France… Algeria’s experience assures that the Jewish settlers in Palestine will disappear in the end.” (Waed, Issue 28)

WITH THE motivation to hate, fight, and the assurance of victory implanted, all that is left to turn the Palestinian child into a soldier is to make it clear that fighting and dying as a martyr is expected of him/her. 

Palestinian Media Watch first exposed this PA child abuse in November 2000 and the PA’s child soldier promotion has never stopped. Two young girls recently sang on PA TV: “In the name of freedom we’ll sacrifice our lives.” (Official PA TV, October 22, 2021) 

Another young girl recently recited: “A Jew defiled Jerusalem… He gathered the world’s dogs (i.e., Jews) inside you… Resistance is a weapon and a rock, Allahu Akbar.” (Official PA TV, November 4, 2021)

One of the most sinister of these messages was in a recital by a young girl posted by Fatah on its Facebook page, in which a mother tells her son: “Our weapon is our Islam, and our ammunition is our children. And you, O my son, are meant for Martyrdom.” Is their greater child abuse than telling a generation of Palestinian children that they have no value as individuals; their essence is merely to be ammunition for Islam?

With the PA feeding Palestinian children a steady diet of child soldier promotion, when the PA launches its terror waves it has a cadre of children ready to be called to action. For example, during the last extended terror wave from September 2015 to June 2016, in which Palestinians murdered 40 people, Fatah’s Waed magazine for children ages 6-15, actively encouraged the children to participate in the terror: 

“It is important to note the children’s role in the Palestinian activity in the period of armed struggle… the RPG children… the children of the rocks… and to this very day the children constitute a vanguard in the struggle… as is clearly known in the [current] Al-Aqsa uprising.” 

After instructing the children to be “a vanguard” of the “armed struggle,” Fatah then glorified child sacrifice: “Palestine is my entire life… Life and the children are a sacrifice for your sake.” (Waed, Issue 27)

The PA’s child recruitment was a great success. Many Palestinian teenagers participated, and sixteen 12th graders died in that terror wave. The PA’s response to their deaths was horrifying, as the official PA news agency, presented their deaths as a “great victory”: 

“Sixteen [12th grade students] succeeded [achieving] the Martyrdom of the homeland… for death as a Martyr is the path to excellence and greatness and the path of those who know how to reach the great victory.” (WAFA, July 11, 2016)

Finally, after sending its children to die, the PA uses them for political profit. Internally, the deaths are used to create hatred of Israel, as the PA routinely presents child terrorists as innocent victims murdered by Israel.

Internationally, the PA publicizes the numbers of killed teenagers and calls on the world to punish Israel. As the frequency grows of members of parliaments and anti-Israel NGOs condemning Israel for the deaths of Palestinian children, increasing the number of dead Palestinian children has become a fundamental component of the PA propaganda strategy.

Years ago, the first time this writer presented this evidence at a hearing in the US Senate it drew outrage. Then-senator Hillary Clinton attacked the PA for its “horrific child abuse,” and former senator Arlen Specter denounced it as “civilization abuse.” But the American and other international condemnations have remained empty words because politicians come and go, while the PA’s use of child soldiers remains at the forefront of its strategy. 

Years of PA indoctrination have been alarmingly effective. Palestinian children know they are expected to be child soldiers, and regularly another one seeks a moment of fulfillment and fame, hoping to kill and be killed. Palestinian children have already mastered what they are being taught. Perhaps it is the rest of us who need to stay after school.

The writer is director of Palestinian Media Watch. He coauthored the book Deception, with Nan Jacques Zilberdik.