A Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), has, in two documents, compiled information demonstrating Palestinian violence along the Gaza border during the “Great March of Return.” Despite DCI-P’s claims that the march is a series of “protests” led by “civilians,” the actual evidence provided in their documentation proves otherwise.

For example, in its December 31, 2018 “Year in Review” report, DCI-P states that “protestors’ activities have involved…burning tires, efforts to pass through the perimeter fence on foot or the Israeli-enforced ‘no go zones’ at sea on fishing boats, launching incendiary balloons across the perimeter fence, and throwing stones, molotov cocktails, firebombs or other objects toward the perimeter fence” (emphasis added). Individuals committing these acts of violence are combatants, or civilians directly participating in hostilities.

DCI-P labels other undoubtedly military acts as civilian, claiming that “some civilians have developed other protest strategies such as the ‘night confusion unit’ whose goal is to create distractions for Israeli forces late at night with loud sounds and fireworks. Another group has self-organized to construct large kites with flaming tales to be flown across the perimeter fence in order to start fires in Israeli agricultural fields and forests” (emphasis added).

In the second publication, “Two children died from Palestinian armed group activities,” DCI-P simultaneously claims that children participating in the violence along the Gaza border were both “recruited and used” as child soldiers and killed as civilians. For instance, DCI-P states that “a 15-year-old boy killed by Israeli forces on May 14, was a member of Islamic Jihad’s youth ‘Scouts’ program, known as Al-Faris” adding that “According to eyewitness testimony, Ahmad was throwing two tires toward the remnants of burning tires…he was unarmed and dressed in civilian clothing” (emphasis added).

DCI-P also explains that a 16-year old was “shot him while he was attempting to set fire to a tire near the perimeter fence…while wearing civilian clothing and unarmed” (emphasis added).

Additionally, DCI-P condemns Israel’s response to a grenade being thrown by Hamas’ armed wing Al-Qassam Brigades, which resulted in the death of two minors, ages 17 and 15. DCI-P does not question why the youth were present during violence conducted by the terror group, or whether the terror group bears responsibility for endangering the minors.

DCI-P’s labelling of violence and recruitment and use of children as soldiers in Gaza as “civilian” and “protest” acts should be seen in the context of the NGO’s ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. Many current and former DCI-P officials, employees, and board members have links to the PFLP. For example, Hashem Abu Maria, a DCI-P employee, was hailed by the PFLP as a “comrade” and a “leader” after his death in 2014. Mahmoud Jiddah, reportedly a “PFLP member,” was imprisoned by Israel for 17 years for carrying out “grenade attacks” against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem in 1968. Hassan Abed Aljawad is similarly described as a Bethlehem-based “PFLP activist,” or “leader,” representing the PFLP at public events (see NGO Monitor’s report “The European-Funded PFLP Network” for more details).