Palestinian boys take part in a military-style exercise at a Hamas summer camp in Gaza, June 9, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas summer camp

How can the Mideast conflict ever be resolved if the Palestinians don’t teach peace to their own children?

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

It’s March 2004, during the height of the Second Intifada. IDF soldiers at the Harawa checkpoint near Nablus were tipped off to the presence of a suicide bomber at the crossing.

The soldiers closed the crossing, but who among the 200-300 Palestinians waiting for it to reopen was the bomber?

Eventually, the soldiers noticed a Palestinian approaching them. His red shirt was too big. And there was a suspicious bulge.

His name was Hussam Abdo. He was 16, and he was even more frightened than the security personnel.

As the soldiers took cover behind barricades, a yellow robot brought Abdo a pair of scissors so he could cut away at the vest. Then the boy was instructed to cut away the rest of his clothes to make sure there weren’t any other weapons.

After Abdo was taken for questioning, sappers detonated an 18 lb. bomb.

It was later learned that Abdo had been recruited by the the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Fatah-offshoot founded by Yasser Arafat and Marwan Barghouti. Abdo said he was given 100 shekels and promised sex with virgins if he blew himself up.

Children Recruited for Terror Today

This week is Palestinian Child Soldier Week, to raise awareness to the problem of minors being recruited by terror groups.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has evolved since 2004. Instead of suicide bombings, Palestinian terror attacks tend to be shootings, stabbings and car-rammings. And Hamas fires thousands of rockets from Gaza.

But terror groups continue to indoctrinate and recruit Palestinian children. It’s not difficult. The kids are bombarded with messages glorifying martyrdom in school, on television, social media, even video games.

Last year, 50,000 Palestinian children were sent to Hamas summer camps in Gaza, according to Hebrew media reports. Thanks to computer simulations, children learned to shoot soldiers, fire anti-tank rockets, and even kidnap an Israeli. That’s in addition to the obstacles courses that feature sliding under barbed wire and passing through rings of fire.

Hamas is also known to recruit children to dig terror tunnels. According to a 2012 report by the Ramallah-based Institute for Palestine Studies, “at least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.”

The report’s author, Nicolas Pelham, told Tablet magazine that Hamas uses children in its tunneling operations because, “much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies.”

In Judea and Samaria, Palestinian children were taught to admire six terrorists who escaped from an Israeli prison in 2021. PA sporting events for youth are often named after “heroes” with Israeli blood on their hands, such as Marwan Barghouti (basketball tournament), Dalal Mughrabi karate championship), and Khalil al-Wazir, who is better known as Abu Jihad (chess tournament).

Events like these are a slow-drip toxic influence on young minds.

For Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, having a kiddy corps raises the likelihood of children getting killed and sympathetic media coverage portraying Israel as baby killers.

Children who participated in armed conflicts in Africa tended to suffer afterward from psychiatric illness, heightened aggression and violent behavior. Children who were merely trained for war — but not sent to fight — still showed higher risk of committing suicide later on.

How can the Mideast conflict ever be resolved if the Palestinians don’t teach peace to their own children?