The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was quick to hold an emergency session on January 5 because a Jew dared to walk on the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Two days earlier, that Jew, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s National Security Minister, had made a quiet, 13-minute tour of the site.
Although Jews visiting the Temple Mount are often harassed, threatened and sometimes physically attacked by Muslims, Ben-Gvir’s brief tour ended peacefully and no violent incidents were reported by either Muslims or Jews. Still, the Palestinians and some countries, dubbing the visit a “dangerous and unprecedented provocation,” continued to condemn Israel over it.
Revealingly, in the same week that the UNSC and various countries were denouncing Jews for visiting their holiest site in Jerusalem, Palestinians, in an ongoing form of child abuse and crimes against humanity regularly ignored by the media and international community, were again sending minors to attack Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
Crimes against humanity, according to the United Nations, include:
Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
The exploitation of Palestinian minors in the war against Israel is not a new occurrence. It started immediately after the establishment of several Palestinian terror groups, particularly the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) more than 50 years ago. These groups have not hesitated to brainwash children and recruit them as combatants in the “armed struggle” against Israel.
In recent weeks, the Palestinian terror groups operating in the West Bank have been dispatching minors aged 15-17 to confront Israeli soldiers who enter Palestinian communities to arrest terrorists. Many of the minors are armed with automatic rifles and improvised explosive devices, as well as Molotov cocktails, stones and other objects.
When these minors are injured or killed during clashes with the soldiers, Palestinian leaders are quick to condemn Israel for targeting “innocent children.” Many sloppy foreign journalists and human rights activists have no problem parroting the false Palestinian narrative regarding the death of the minors.
The most recent victims of the Palestinian abuse and exploitation of children are Amer Abu Zeitoun, 16, from Balata Refugee Camp, and Adam Ayyad, 15, of Dheisheh Refugee Camp. The two, who were killed during violent clashes with Israeli soldiers in the first week of January, were anything but “innocent children.”
Those who send minors to carry out terror attacks should be held responsible for committing a crime against the Palestinians, for deliberately placing their children in danger, and not only Israel.
Abu Zeitoun, according to the Palestinians, was one of several minors recruited by the armed groups in his camp to monitor the movements of Israeli soldiers engaged in counterterrorism operations. The minors are called “The Guards of the Camp” and their job is to alert the terrorists when they see soldiers in the area.
The ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas admitted that Abu Zeitoun was actually involved in the armed clashes between the Israeli soldiers and the Palestinian terrorists. In a poster published on January 5, Fatah hailed Abu Zeitoun as a “martyr, hero and fighter.”
Abu Zeitoun’s funeral was attended by dozens of gunmen, most likely the same terrorists who recruited him and sent him to attack the Israeli soldiers.
The Palestinian Authority that glorifies terrorists and rewards them and their families with monthly stipends – essentially a “jobs program” soliciting murder -- organized a “military funeral” for the Palestinian minor. This is the same Palestinian Authority that allows the terror groups to freely operate in areas under its control. This is the same Palestinian Authority that does not call out the terrorists for exploiting the children and sending them to fight the Israeli army, one of the strongest armies in the Middle East.
The second recent victim of Palestinian child abuse, Adam Ayyad, also turned out not to be an “innocent child.” According to his friends and neighbors, Ayyad was affiliated with the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a notorious Palestinian group designated as a terrorist organization by the US, European Union, Canada and Israel. During his funeral, Ayyad’s body was wrapped with the red-colored flag of the PFLP.
Ayyad, who was killed during violent clashes with Israeli soldiers, had even written a will expressing his desire to die as a “martyr.”
“I’m telling everyone that martyrdom is not just death,” Ayyad wrote. “Martyrdom is a pride for yourself and pride for the whole world. Martyrdom is a true victory that ends your life, but it ends while you are happy. I’m happy that God has fulfilled one of my dreams: martyrdom.”
So much for being an “innocent child.” Like Abu Zeitouneh and other minors, Ayyad knew exactly what he was doing and that he could be killed while attacking Israeli soldiers. The PFLP, whose leaders recruited and dispatched Ayyad to the battlefield, later held a ceremony to honor him for his “martyrdom.”
Abu Zeitouneh and Ayyad were not the only minors recruited by terrorist groups to carry out terrorist attacks. In November 2022, Mahdi Hashash, a 15-year-old boy from Balata Refugee Camp, was killed when an improvised explosive device he was preparing to throw at Israeli soldiers, accidentally went off prematurely. After his death, a local terror group, called Balata Battalion, praised Hashash as a “hero” and “lion.”
Palestinian terror groups are recruiting minors to carry out terrorist attacks while Palestinian leaders and international organizations are screaming that “innocent children are being killed.”
Palestinian children are brainwashed against Israel from the cradle and are deliberately placed in harm’s way, while the UN and the rest of the world look the other way.
The UN members who held an emergency session to discuss the visit by a Jew to the Temple Mount are the biggest hypocrites of all. These supposed purveyors of virtue do not want to acknowledge that the Palestinian recruitment of children as soldiers is the real threat to peace and security, and not a Jew walking on the grounds of a holy site in Jerusalem.
It would have been better for the UN and all those who rushed to condemn Ben-Gvir’s visit had they called an emergency session to see why Palestinian children are being sent by their own people to die in clashes with the Israeli army.
It would also have been better had the UN held a special session to discuss the Palestinian leadership’s responsibility for its ongoing incitement against Israel and encouraging minors to seek death as “martyrs.”
By failing to confront the child exploitation, the UN and Israel’s enemies are endangering the lives of more Palestinian children who have been recruited to join the jihad (holy war) against Israel and Jews.
The blood of the next Palestinian child killed in battle will be on the hands of the liars in the corridors of the UN and the offices of major newspapers around the world, which continue to ignore Palestinian atrocities against their own people.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.