Foreign Policy Blogs

Palestinian children reared to fight and die for a free Palestine


Is it child abuse when you raise a child from infancy to fight, to be prepared to die for their country? This is not an article to say who is right or wrong in the fight between the Israelis and the Palestinians, I am not looking to take sides, but to merely draw attention to the issue of the children caught in the middle of this fight amongst men. I've stated previously that children should never have to endure a war, but the fact of the matter is millions do, and it is the only life the have, and may ever know. To witness such acts of violence is atrocity in its own right, but to be used as pawn in such a cruel act is undeniably a deplorable and a crime.

“I hope to be a Martyr…I hope when I get 14 or 15 to explode myself.” His mother said in response, “I encourage him, and he should do this,” said the woman, the mother of six. “God gave him to me to defend our land. “Palestinian women must have more and more children till we liberate our land. This is a holy duty for all Palestinian people.” (Why Palestinian Children Die)

In 2002 the world media was aghast at the sight of a photo of Hamas baby suicide bomber, but this image is only one of many (See Photos of Palestinian Child Abuse)

Family of ‘baby bomber’ says photograph was ‘just a joke’, but many more images have, and could be produced. Secondly let me clearly point out that using a child as war propaganda is never a joke!

Unfortunately these children are not just dressed up in the costumes of suicide bombers, their minds are continually filled with rhetoric on how they will be greeted in paradise should they chose the path of a martyr. The TV like in America is used to speak directly to children in a way they understand, only its not about video games and sweets, it guides them to give their lives for a free Palestine (Seducing Children to Martyrdom). Children are taught in schools, they see cartoons, they are surrounded by the rhetoric of hate and violence, death is nothing more than a duty ( Suicide bombers on Iran kids’ TV).

I cannot even express in words what goes through my mind when I see images of young, innocent children, being dressed up and paraded around as suicide bombers. I no longer see the future and hope in the eyes of that child, for now their lives seem to be mapped out before them, and the road is paved with violence and death.

I would like to bring you back to my entry on April 26th, 'the Use of Children to Commit Crimes and Acts of War’, in which a boy of maybe 12, was captured on video beheading a man in Iraq. Now I know nothing about this child, except that he is living in a world surrounded by violence, permanently scared by war, and now he too is a killer. One does not recovery easily, or ever, from such acts, not even trained soldiers, who are of consenting age, killing in self defense. So where does a child go to after growing up in such a violent and submissive way? They grow into violent, extremist adolescents, or adults if they make it that long. The child executioner, becomes the next radical leader, who sees no harm in recruiting the very young, and the cycle continues and grows. The child who is paraded around as a mini-suicide bomber, becomes just that, a young suicide bomber and their act of martyrdom incite more families to rear a new generation of young suicide bombers and extremists.

” Any attack on civilians is prohibited by international law, but using children for suicide attacks is particularly egregious. Palestinian armed groups must clearly and publicly condemn all use of children under the age of 18 for military activities, and make sure these policies are carried out. “
Jo Becker, children's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

The future for these children does not foretell adulthood for most of them. It is a short life that begins with a moment of joy at birth, then quickly turns into toddlers of war, child suicide bombers and ends with a little box.

A child who never gets the opportunity to hold onto innocence, is a sad thing and it leaves us with a scary look into the future. It is a sad day when anyone commits atrocities, but when the assailant is a mere child, it"s more than tragic, it irreparable scar on the face of our future.

Dan Abrams stated in an the article, Turning a blind eye to child suicide bombers (2004), stated his outrage over the fact that no one is really expressing much outrage over the use of children as suicide bombers.

"When children are involved, they are being used and manipulated by adults who have indoctrinated them. Just condemning suicide bombing says nothing about the abuse of children. This is not just about Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians. It's about Palestinians targeting Palestinian children."

A mere toddler, let alone an infant, has not say in the acts of the adults around them, and we must all see that these children are given at chance at peace, a chance at a future. However if children are continually allowed to be used as propaganda, let alone weapons, in a centuries old war, then the end will continue to become more and more obscure. It makes one question weather each generation is becoming increasingly more violent than the last!

Revenge never ended a war, it only began another!

Teach Kids Peace – A number of relevant articles, also see the following video
School Trains Suicide Bombers
The exploitation of Palestinian youth by Palestinian terrorist organizations – Has a lot of photos
You Tube – Child Suicide Bombers – Find a suicide bomber cartoon here



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict