When tragedy strikes the State of Israel, the country's greatest detractors are always ready to trumpet their standard 'Israel brought it on itself' arguments. Rather than even pretend to express an ounce of sympathy - even when children are at risk - one can count on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to blame 'the occupation' rather than condemn abhorrent acts of terror. After all, they need only quote MK Haneen Zoabi who ignorantly claims '[Israel] encourages kidnapping as long as it ignores the context of occupation.'
In light of a few articles drawing a moral equivalence between the kidnapping of three civilians and the detention of Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons, I attach a few selections of the International Child Soldiers International's Global Report from 2004, describing the exploitation and maltreatment of Palestinian children for the 'cause' of terrorism. I hope our boys come back - but I also hope boys in the West Bank and Gaza are freed from the oppression of Hamas and the PLO.
1. ‘‘Children receive military training and are used as messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. All the main political groups involve children in this way, including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.’’
2. ‘‘At least nine children carried out suicide attacks in Israel and the Occupied Territories between October 2000 and March 2004. 23 Palestinian non-governmental groups documented the deaths of 30 children actively involved in organized military action from September 2000 to March 2004.’’
3. ‘‘Fatah condemned the use of children in suicide operations on a number of occasions. However, its military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was implicated in at least four such operations, by Ayat al-Akhras, aged 17, in Jerusalem in March 2002; Issa Abedrabbu Ibrahim Badir, aged 17, in Rishon Lezion in May 2002; 16-year-old Sabih Abu al-Saoud in March 2003; and 17-year-old Islam Qteishat in Rosh Ha’ayin in August 2003. Al-Aqsa and Islamic Jihad also allegedly supported an attempted attack on an Israeli town by three 13- to 15-year-old boys from Tubbas in March 2004.’’
4. ‘‘In March 2003 Hamas leader Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi, who was killed by Israeli forces on 17 April 2004, declared, “If a boy is 16, he is a man. He is a mujaheed, a holy warrior, engaged in jihad”. The Hamas armed forces, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, were implicated in several attacks by under-18s, including a suicide bombing by 17-year-old Khamis Gerwan near Arial in August 2003. Several 16- to 18-year-olds were killed in attacks on Israeli settlements that allegedly had Hamas backing. Hamas claimed responsibility for attacks by children as young as 15.’’
5. ‘‘Children accused of being recruited as informants by the Israeli authorities were at serious risk. On 5 February 2002, shortly after death sentences were passed on two 17 year olds, Khaled Kamiel and Jihad Kamiel, by the State Security Court in Jenin for the killing of a member of the Palestinian Authority security services, armed men entered the court and shot dead both boys. They had been accused of collaborating with the Israeli authorities.’’