Who Really Harms Palestinian Kids? What the Media Fails to Report
During Operation Breaking Dawn, the most recent escalation between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Gaza-based US-designated Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organization, a senior PIJ commander named Tayseer al-Jabari was killed in an IDF airstrike.
However, not one news organization covered PIJ’s telling response to the events on August 5. A propaganda video published by the terror group featured Al-Jabari’s teenage son firing a semiautomatic rifle, essentially endorsing the use of child soldiers.
This is the son of Tayseer al-Jabari, the senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander the IDF killed in Gaza recently. These are the so called “innocent civilians” the IDF aborts missions for.
— Documenting Israel (@israelmuse) August 27, 2022
An HonestReporting analysis shows that the media rarely covers the recruiting of children by PIJ and Hamas, another terror group committed to the destruction of Israel.
Unfortunately, the indoctrination of hatred and violence towards Jews and Israelis is the norm in the Gaza Strip, with Hamas and PIJ propaganda glorifying child soldiers as the next generation of fighters. These messages percolate in large parts of Palestinian society, starting at elementary schools, and will impact any future possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.
For instance, in 2016, children in a Gazan elementary school performed a school play where they pretended to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians. Another video released by ITV News that year showed a Hamas “summer camp,” where teenagers performed tactical exercises and military-grade training.
In 2021, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a video showing the indoctrination of Palestinian children to become “martyrs.” Meanwhile, a video from Al Jazeera showcased the mock “liberation” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by Palestinian child soldiers.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official, explicitly stated that Gaza’s rulers aim to “prepare the ‘generation of Jerusalem and Palestine’ to liberate Palestinian prisoners.”
In his comments, Radwan obviously hinted at the fact that the group is training young children to break Palestinian terrorists out of jail.
Two months ago, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and Palestinian Media Watch both reported on the West Bank’s ruling Fatah faction organizing “summer camps” just south of Nablus that taught children to use violence (see here and here).
Finally, a video featured Palestinian children interviewed on Palestinian Authority (PA) TV expressing their commitment to destroying Israel and murdering Jews.
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is contingent on the next generation — the children of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. For years, Hamas, PIJ, and the PA have brainwashed youth with the normalization of terrorism, hatred towards Jews and Israelis, and ideological beliefs grounded in violence.
Every summer, while children in the United States attend camps filled with songs, laughs, and games, 50,000 thousand Palestinian minors are trained to kill, kidnap, and carry out terror attacks at the Hamas, PIJ, and Fatah “summer camps.”
Yet while news media outlets and international organizations regularly blame Israel for “killing innocent children,” they rarely — if ever — allude to the mass transformation of Palestinian children into brutal terrorists. This, despite the fact that recruiting child soldiers is illegal under international law.
As outlined by the United Nations’ Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, “Recruiting and using children under the age of 15 as soldiers is prohibited under international humanitarian law — treaty and custom — and is defined as a war crime by the International Criminal Court.”
The media is nowhere to be found when information is released about Hamas abusing children as terror assets. Even when innocent children are killed by Israel — unintentionally and regretfully — they are praised for their martyrdom by the terrorist organizations fueling the conflict for the betterment of the few in Palestinian leadership.
Notably, the recruitment of child soldiers does not begin in these “summer camps” for adolescents, or with the recruitment of young adults by Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, but rather with the brainwashing of young children in day school.
Hamas’ ideology and values are taught within schools using funds from the United Nations, as has been reported several times. Instead of learning life skills and receiving an education, children are taught hatred and violence.
As recently as July 2022, IMPACT-se, an education watchdog organization, published a report exposing academic material funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “that encourages violence, jihad and martyrdom, antisemitism, hate, and intolerance, with overtly politicized language.”
Unfortunately, this is not a one-off incident. In July of 2021, UN Watch produced a report concluding that over “100 UNRWA staffers … in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan … incite antisemitism and terrorism, in gross violation of United Nations and UNRWA internal policies concerning staff neutrality and impartiality.”
Major outlets including the BBC, CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and many more have failed to report on this. Ironically, media outlets like these were quick to publish headlines such as “Gaza’s children are used to the death and bombing”or “Israel: normalising terror, one dawn at a time” during Operation Breaking Dawn in August 2022.
It is imperative for journalists to note that, at these young ages, teaching children hatred and antisemitism has lifelong impacts on their perceptions of Israel and Jews. These future Gazan leaders, fighters, and terrorists will impact possible future peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership.
Indeed, the Arab-Israeli conflict is intensified and peace regresses so long as news outlets and organizations promote a flagrantly inaccurate narrative.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.