Sunday, November 02, 2014

02-Nov-14: Understanding what they really mean when the terrorists say children are their main concern

Palestinian Arab child photographed at Hamas "victory" event
in Nablus, August 29, 2014 [Image Source: AP]
Universal Children's Day takes place on November 20, less than three weeks from today. 

The annual event was initiated by the UN General Assembly in 1954 as a way of encouraging states to "to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children" and similar blah blah. But also "to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children" which is a worthy and concrete goal.

Even the most cursory look at things that are done to children in many parts of the world serves to persuade of the need to take their welfare very seriously. Think of the millions of children cheated of education and forced into child labour, slavery, prostitution and pornography. And then there's the recruitment and training of child soldiers, a matter that has occupied us here on this blog often. 

The UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1958 and then the Convention on the Rights of the Child exactly 31 years later, on November 20, 1989. That convention is going to be 25 years old later this month. Pretty soon now the formalities, the issue of new postage stamps and theme posters and similar actions by civil servants are going to render the occasion even more meaningless than it probably is already. So allow us please to share a handful of observations about children in the Palestinian Arab world.

First some notes from a brief analysis triggered by the wave of violence that is currently on view here in Jerusalem from where we produce this blog. The Israeli Arab journalist and analyst, Khaled Abu Toameh ["Palestinians:Stop the Children's Intifada!", October 29, 2014] writes:
Nearly half of the Palestinians arrested by Jerusalem Police over the past few months are minors. Some of them are as young as nine. These children are being sent to throw stones and firebombs, and launch fireworks at policemen and IDF soldiers, as well as at Israeli civilians and vehicles, including buses and the light rail in Jerusalem. Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian groups are using children from east Jerusalem and the West Bank in what appears to be a new intifada against Israel... The exploitation of children in the fight against Israel has attracted little attention from the international community and media. Human rights groups and United Nations institutions have chosen to turn a blind eye to these human rights abuses. Instead of condemning those who exploit the children and dispatch them to confront policemen and soldiers, these groups and institutions are busy denouncing Israel for targeting minors.
Pre-teen Pal Arab girl poses at Nablus "victory" rally
organized by Hamas, August 30, 2014 [Image Source]
He says most of the children detained by police for involvement in the violence are released to house arrest. Those aged between nine and 13 are referred to social welfare authorities and not detained. More quotes from Abu Toameh:
  • Hamas and Fatah had long discovered that children are one of the most effective tools in the fight against Israel - especially because of the damage Israel sustains in the court of international public opinion.
  • This strategy works out well for Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Fatah. At the end of the day, they can always blame Israel for "deliberately" targeting Palestinian children and women -- an allegation that the mainstream media in the West often endorses without asking questions.
  • Moreover, the Palestinian groups know that the children who are being sent to confront Israeli soldiers and policemen will not be held accountable...
  • These children are victims of a campaign of indoctrination and incitement that is being waged by various Palestinian groups... through the media, mosques, educational institutions and the fiery rhetoric of leaders and activists...
  • There are also reports that Fatah and Hamas activists in Jerusalem have been paying children small sums of money to throw stones and firebombs at Israelis and block roads in several Arab neighborhoods... Palestinian groups often reward the families of the children by hiring lawyers and paying fines imposed on them by Israeli courts. As a result, the families are less motivated to stop their children from risking their lives... 
  • The time has come for the international community and media to pay attention to their disturbing conduct and demand that Palestinian groups stop hiding behind children... The adult activists who send and encourage children to take part in violence should be held accountable, not only by Israeli authorities, but also by their own people and international human rights organizations. If these adults want an intifada, they should be the first to go out and confront Israeli policemen and soldiers.
Life Magazine, June 12, 1970
We mentioned above that the recruitment and training of child soldiers into the Palestinian terrorism machine is a matter that has occupied us often here on this blog over the years. Here are some links to past posts to bookmark and read when you can:
Not for the first time, we are left to wonder aloud why UNICEF, Save the ChildrenAmnesty, Terre des HommesInternational Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and so many other well-funded, high-profile public interest organizations are taking so little interest in this unfolding tragedy. It's happening right under their noses. And, as the famous cover (above right) from LIFE magazine, published more than 40 years ago reminds, they can hardly claim this is some sort of new phenomenon.

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