The international community has long ignored the Palestinian weaponization of children in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teen whose family scripts physical confrontations with Israeli soldiers and then widely disseminates the resulting videos on social media to demonize Israel and glorify “resistance,” is a representative example.
The Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Hamas, and other armed factions have routinized the grooming of children from an early age as weapons and soldiers in the Palestinian war against Israel and Jews. Children are taught and encouraged by cuddly animals on Palestinian Authority and Hamas TV to kill Jews. Fatah publishes manuals on how kids can most efficiently attack with stones and knives.1 Terror groups like the PFLP parade combatant-dressed children brandishing knives and guns through the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. Recreation centers and sports tournaments are named after terrorists, including kids who kill. UNRWA schools teach antisemitism and hate, and glorify Palestinian killers and the elimination of Israel.2 Hamas dresses up babies as suicide bombers. Children are encouraged to participate in violent riots, to hurl or slingshot rocks at Israeli cars, to smuggle telephones to terrorists in jail, to carry explosives, and even to stab children and mothers to death in their homes. The Palestinian Authority then rewards this activity by providing salaries to perpetrators greatly in excess of those trying to earn an honest living.3
Tamimi is literally the poster child in this propaganda war. Prior to her attack on the soldiers, Tamimi was filmed stating, “Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine.”4 These violent sentiments are not surprising. Tamimi’s unremorseful aunt, Ahlam, on the United States of America FBI’s Most Wanted list,5 was an organizer of the Jerusalem Sbarro Pizza bombing targeting families, which killed 15 and wounded more than 130. In 1993, her uncle, Nizar, murdered and burned Israeli Chaim Mizrahi as part of a Hamas attack.6 Another cousin, Manal, was removed from a UN report in 2017 after the Amuta for NGO Responsibility alerted UN officials to her vile antisemitic and violent social media posts.7 Most importantly, her parents routinely praise terror attacks on social media and have been arrested numerous times for organizing the children of their village to engage in confrontations with the Israeli army. In other words, Ahed’s home environment largely mirrors the routine, widespread, and systematic campaign of Palestinian child weaponization promoted by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Despite the Palestinian exploitation and abuse, UN officials such as Rapporteur Michael Lynk; NGOs, like Amnesty International and HRW; and other promoters of anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns choose to ignore this reality, and instead heroicize this campaign of incitement and recruitment of child combatants.
While they blast press releases and images of Tamimi around the world, they obscure her family background of terrorism, abuse, and exploitation, and at the same time erase Israeli child victims.
This campaign is often marketed under the catchy slogan of “No Way to Treat a Child,” which targets Western governments and calls for “pressur[ing] the Israeli government to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children.” The effort is led by Palestinian NGOs closely linked to the PFLP terror group and antisemitic BDS organizations. Large sums of money and other resources are being invested in this campaign by the UN, the European Union, Japan, and European governments. The images of “poor Ahed Tamimi” on trial are used to amplify the effort.
Most disturbing is the role of UNICEF— which was created to help children around the world. NGO Monitor, a project of the Amuta, has systematically analyzed and detailed this process in our January 2018 report, “UNICEF and its NGO Working Group: Failing Children.”8 Among the findings are UNICEF’s collaboration with terror-linked NGOs and its refusal to document or report on Palestinian incitement, recruitment, and use of child soldiers. UNICEF OPT’s claim that its working group was “not in a position to document cases of [Palestinian] child recruitment and use of children in armed conflict” is simply absurd given the presence of several working group members including numerous UN agencies in both Gaza and the West Bank.
Alarmingly, at least two of UNICEF’s working group members are linked to the PFLP terror organization. This association perhaps explains the failure of UNICEF and its working group to document the Palestinian weaponization of children. In addition, it is evidence of severe moral and institutional breakdown that UNICEF thinks it is acceptable to include terror-linked NGOs as “human rights” partners on a UN directed and funded project.
Exposing the cynical “No Way to Treat a Child” propaganda requires highlighting the false claims, the willful blindness towards Palestinian child weaponization, and the naming and shaming of the participants, including the UN agencies (UNRWA, OCHA, OHCHR, and UNICEF). In parallel, UNICEF officials and donors, including the European Union, Japanese, and European governments, must be pressed to review funding and move to end this complicity. The individuals and foundations who give generously to UNICEF under the illusion that unlike other UN bodies, this one actually acts morally, should reconsider. If UNICEF officials are seriously concerned about protecting children like Ahed Tamimi, as well as the Israeli child victims in the ongoing Palestinian terror war, they should keep far away from such exploitation.
- See Palestinian Media Watch, www.palwatch.org, for many examples.
- See Aiden Pink, “New Palestinian textbooks encourage violence,” The Forward, December 4, 2017, https://forward.com/fast-forward/389043/new-palestinian-textbooks-encourage-violence-report/; Impact-SE, “Reform or Radicalization: PA 2017 Curriculum — A Preliminary Review,” October 2017; UN Watch, “Enhanced Due Diligence: An Examination of Canada’s Pledge to Stop UNRWA Teachers from Inciting Jihadist Terrorism and Antisemitism,” April 2017.
- The PA paid more than $350 million in 2017 alone to convicted terrorists. The more violent and serious the crime, the greater the payout. Lahav Harkav, “Palestinian Authority Paid Terrorists Nearly $350 Million in 2017, Jerusalem Post, January 9, 2018.
- Jacob Magid, “Military court indicts soldier-slapping teen Ahed Tamimi, her mother,” Times of Israel, January 1, 2018.
- Sarah Helm, “Israeli settlers fight a losing battle: The murder of a West Bank student highlights the plight of the Jewish religious communities confronting Palestinian rule,” The Independent (UK), November 7, 1993.
- Amuta for NGO Responsibility, “UN Changes Special Rapporteur Lynk’s Report Following NGO Monitor Complaint,” May 14, 2017, https://www.ngo-monitor.org/press-releases/un-lynk-report-tamimi-ngo-monitor/.