Palestinian youth trained for war in the Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Palestinian youth

Palestinian terror groups use children as weapons of war through suicide bombings, terror tunnel digging, and stabbing attacks, while receiving little condemnation.

By The Coalition to Save Palestinian Child Soldiers

The use of child soldiers is illegal, and terror groups that utilize this abominable tactic should receive international condemnation. Yet, somehow, this condemnation does not seem to apply to Palestinian terror organizations like Hamas, PFLP and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

These terror groups have essentially been given a “free pass” to use tens of thousands of children as weapons of war through suicide bombings, terror tunnel digging, and stabbing attacks, while receiving little condemnation. Even the Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, instills a mentality of violence and hatred into susceptible youth through its anti-Semitic and bigoted education system.

The United Nantions Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child soldier as “…any person below 18 years of age who is or who has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes… It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities.”

Around the world, there are currently 300,000 child soldiers, of which roughly 40% are girls. These children can be as young as 8 years old. The reason children are used is because they are easier to manipulate or brainwash, less likely to defect, and simply do not understand the consequences of their actions. Those who are not brainwashed, are forced to join by either through vicious beatings, coercion and offers of meager food compensation.

Terror, Deadly Weapons, and Deaths

Hamas, the current ruling power in Gaza, uses child soldiers daily, and PIJ hosts summer camps every year during which 10,000 children are trained in terrorist tactics, operating deadly weaponry, and military strategy. The children who tragically die in combat, riots, or terrorism after graduating these training camps are hailed as “martyrs” and celebrated by Hamas and PIJ.

Horrifyingly, children have even been used in suicide terror attacks. In 2004, Abdullah Quraan was found carrying a bomb inside a bag across a checkpoint in the West Bank. Abdullah believed he was merely taking a bag to the checkpoint, not realizing Palestinian terrorists had placed a bomb inside.

Thankfully, Abdullah was taken into custody by Israeli authorities before he could complete his unwitting suicide mission. He was 12 years old at the time. The use of Palestinian children as suicide bombers became so ubiquitous that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both issued condemnations of the practice. Now, 16 years later, children are still being coerced into committing suicidal stabbing attacks that result in severe injury or death to both the victim and the child.

Using child soldiers as human shields is also a common tactic of Palestinian leadership. Often, students are pulled out of school and bused to violent riots, where they are purposely placed in the most dangerous areas of the front lines to protect adult rioters or even armed terrorists. Children are even bribed with money, around $83 to be exact, to try to sabotage the security fence. War is not a child’s game.

This is why the Palestinian Child Soldier Week campaign has been launched. Many international communities are not aware of the horrors the Palestinian Leadership inflicts on these children, abusing their basic rights. Far too few news articles or international forums discuss methods of preventing Palestinian groups from perpetuating this evil practice. PCS Week is a global movement to end the use of Palestinian children as child soldiers. These children deserve to grow up and have children of their own.

What is unique about the campaign is its inclusive and non-partisan nature. It iis open to everyone who cares about children’s rights. Consequently, dozens of NGOs and influencers have joined the coalition, each contributing in their own unique way.

The Campaign week runs from the 14th until the 21st of February. Campuses across the US will be hosting solidarity rallies and urging everyone to sign international open letters addressed to key Public Leaders and Members of EU Parliament. Hopefully, we can inspire them to finally address this issue and bring about a just solution.

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