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PMW to UNICEF: Stop ignoring PA recruitment of child soldiers/terrorists

Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus   |

Every year, the local branch of UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) releases a biased report on “Children and Armed Conflict,” which routinely blames Israel for its treatment of Palestinian children combatants but ignores the fact that it is the Palestinian Authority who recruits the children into combat - in violation of international law.

To counter this bias, Palestinian Media Watch has sent an extensive and detailed report to UNICEF describing how the PA recruited child soldiers/terrorists, in 2019.

PMW's report shows how the PA indoctrinates Palestinian children to hate Jews and Israel; to aspire to the destruction of Israel; brainwashes the Palestinian children to admire murderers; weaponizes the Palestinian children and promotes their participation in violence. The report further shows how the PA pays substantial financial rewards to the child terrorists. Damningly, PMW’s report also shows how the PA leadership openly admits that the child terrorists are the PA’s soldiers.

While UNICEF, overtly and covertly, collaborates with a host of Palestinian NGOs, who provide them with claims of alleged abuses of the rights of the Palestinian children by Israel, which UNICEF includes in its annual report, UNICEF does nothing to gather information about the PA or other Palestinian terror groups recruitment of children. This year PMW has done the work for UNICEF.

PMW’s full report can be read here.

The way to protect Palestinian children from conflict is not to criticize Israeli law enforcement. It begins with identifying the clear factors that drive the Palestinian minors to participate in violence and terror.

Accordingly, and based on the findings of the report, PMW recommends that UNICEF:

  1. Recognize and directly attribute the participation of Palestinian children in widespread and systematic acts of violence and terrorism against Israel and Israelis to the policies of the PA
  2. Demand that the PA immediately desist from indoctrinating Palestinian children to hate Jews and Israel, and to believe in the destruction of Israel
  3. Demand that the PA immediately desist from brainwashing the Palestinian children to admire murderers
  4. Demand that the PA immediately desist from weaponizing the Palestinian children
  5. Demand that the PA immediately desist from promoting the participation of the Palestinian children in violence and acts of terror
  6. Demand that the PA immediately desist from paying financial rewards to the child terrorists

Past UNICEF reports have been void of any research into these Palestinian violations. For example, in its 2018 report on the subject of the recruitment and use of children in the conflict, UNICEF made sundry claims as to why it was incapable of identifying the recruitment of child soldiers by the PA or the other Palestinian Terror groups. These excuses included claiming that the allegations “did not meet the definition of recruitment or due to access reasons and the security of witnesses” or that children had occasionally been paid to make Molotov cocktails and transport weapons in the Gaza Strip, but “it could not be verified if this activity was organized by a party to the conflict.”

UNICEF’s excuses are not valid, since the UN Security Council resolution (1379) that first identified the problem of recruitment of child soldiers, did not restrict itself to a narrow interpretation of the word “Recruitment”, but rather require reporting on “parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children in violation of the international obligations.”

Moreover, the Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, define “Recruitment” as “compulsory, forced and voluntary conscription or enlistment of children into any kind of armed force or armed group.”

Needless to say, PMW’s report shows unequivocally that the PA actively recruits, at times even closing schools and instructing children to go into conflict. UNICEF would need to be willfully blind to claim that the cumulative actions of the PA do not constitute “recruitment” simply because of the lack of formal enlistment. Indeed, terror organizations do not have formal “enlistment” procedures and do not require their members to be “card carrying members” of the organization. In addition, such a requirement would contradict the spirit of all the UN and other documents on this subject.

In conclusion, UNICEF in the past has failed both its mandate and the needs of Palestinian children. Instead of examining the underlying factors that drive Palestinian minors to engage in terror, UNICEF merely has focused on echoing the unfounded claims of the Palestinian NGOs against Israeli law enforcement.

PMW is hopeful that with this report before them, UNICEF will finally acknowledge and condemn the recruitment of child soldiers/terrorists by the PA that PMW has been documenting for years, and thereby fulfill both their obligation to the international community as well as to Palestinian children.

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