Hamas Uses Children as Human Shields, and Israel Gets Blamed
On February 19, 2019, Fathi Hammad, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau, made a public statement saying that “we will teach our kids in the kindergartens, the elementary schools, and the middle schools how to move forward and liberate their land, with the help of Allah alone.”
This declaration was followed by a claim that “once you [children] complete the advanced course of the ‘March of Return,’ you should join the Al-Quds and Al-Qassam Brigades, the mujahideen and the freemen, wherever they may be.”
Although Hamas has not made it a secret that they train children to fulfill military roles, kill Jews, and then actively put them in harm’s way, their practices have only garnered intermittent international condemnation.
CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile pointed out in a 2014 article that this lack of reporting could at least partially be attributed to the social dynamics that exist between anti-Israel NGOs and international reporters.
Van Zile supported the claim by quoting the journalist Matti Friedman, who stated that “media professionals are part of the same social circles as staffers at humanitarian NGOs who, in turn, encourage them to embrace anti-Israel positions.” The twisted result of this dynamic is that even when Hamas sends children to take positions on the front lines of their terrorist activities, Israel consistently gets condemned for targeting underage minors.
Israel’s commitment to reducing civilian casualties has been well documented, and has garnered support from international military experts.
British Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp, who became an outspoken advocate for Israel after spending time observing the methods of the IDF during his military career, stated in 2016 that “no army in history [has] ever made such profound efforts to avoid the loss of life of innocent civilians as the IDF [has] done in Gaza.”
The fact that Israel’s methods during times of active conflict have been consistently questioned, while Hamas’ use of military training camps to indoctrinate children elicits little media coverage, points to the bizarre nature of the international response towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In September 2018, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, a non-profit human rights organization, filed an accusation of war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh for his role in “the recruitment, enlistment and use of children below the age of 15 to participate directly in hostilities in an armed conflict.”
The report itself was the result of an investigation that began in 2015 into accusations of human rights abuses by Hamas, especially concerning their manipulation of children into effectively becoming human shields and terrorists.
Rather than pursuing the case, the ICC instead announced in December 2019 that they believe there is enough evidence to substantiate Palestinian accusations that Israel committed war crimes during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, and thus support the opening of a formal investigation.
This skewed handling of the Gaza situation amounts to complicity with Hamas, as they continue to train children to become participants in their terrorist activities.
Even though every decent human being should express horror when children are killed in an armed conflict, the consistent refusal on the part of the international community to name Hamas as the responsible party guarantees that the loss of innocent life will continue.
Candace Hall is a Senior at Elon University and a 2019-2020 CAMERA Fellow.