Whatever you think of Israel’s war with Hamas, whether you think Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians or defending itself against genocide from them, this war is ultimately about children. There are stark differences in the way children are raised and educated by the two sides. In planning for “the day after,” the end of war and rebuilding of Gaza, these differences will be of enormous consequence in determining the future of the two peoples.
Already, the world has half forgotten what happened to Israeli children on October 7. The New York Times December 29, 2023 article about the rape and sexual violence during that Hamas attack, omitted any mention of the atrocities visited upon children of the mothers who were being raped. We know Gazan terrorists murdered children before their parents’ eyes and forced children to watch their parents being slaughtered.
We know other babies and children were dragged into Gaza and have been held hostage for more than 100 days. Liberated hostages report being held underground with little food or water and no medicine. However, upon their release, Israeli doctors have found evidence that Hamas used drugs, including dangerous ones like ketamine, to sedate the prisoners. Psychological torture is customary-a twelve-year-old boy was forced, under pain of death, to watch videos of murders and beheadings.
Racing to deliver medical help on October 7, an Israeli medic came upon a van in which every member of the family had been killed. The medic, a mother herself, reported that she saw in the back seat “…what I could only assume was a mother, bleeding and fallen over a carseat. Beneath that carseat, a baby shot dead in the head. The mother appeared to have died lying over her baby to protect him.”
The go-to image, appearing in countless American media outlets, is a live shot of the blue, battered body of a small Gazan child being pulled out of rubble and handed over to sobbing, screaming family members. Because Hamas has so deeply embedded its war machine within Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, it has sacrificed countless numbers of its own children. Instead of spending the billions of dollars it has received to build a better life for its citizens, Hamas has created an underground world of horror, dedicated to death and destruction.
The media must again be faulted for failing to report that on the day Hamas crossed the border to massacre Israelis, it brought along children as young as ten years old. Multiple survivors of the rampages that occurred in southern Israel tell us they were shocked to see Gazan children accompanying Hamas terrorists. They-the children- were watching and laughing as Israeli families were murdered, raped, burned, beheaded and kidnapped. They joined Gazan adults-women and elderly people-who were looting homes.
This is how Hamas is willing to use and abuse its children to fulfill its fundamental goal of destroying Israel through jihad (holy war), as openly proclaimed in its charter.
Ghazi Hamad, member of Hamas’s “decision-making political bureau,” declares, “…Operation al-Aqsa Flood (the October 7 massacre) is just the first time and there will be a second, a third, a fourth…” Furthermore, he added, “We are called a nation of martyrs and are proud to sacrifice martyrs…We are not ashamed to say this with full force. We must teach Israel a lesson and we will do this again and again.”
Among the “martyrs,” of course, are the Palestinian children whose entire childhoods have been hijacked. They are being inculcated with the idea that the highest value their lives can have is to kill a Jew and/or die trying. Perhaps it is more correct to say the only value their lives have is to be sacrificed for Islam. Isn’t this the essence of child abuse?
Palestinian children are raised in a culture that glamorizes and glorifies death. Under “Pay for Slay” arrangements, every terrorist who died attacking Israel or killing Israelis is considered a martyr. Not only does martyrdom confer great status upon the martyr and their family, but the families will receive hefty monetary allowances–for life! Streets and public places are named for dead terrorists to reinforce that these are Palestine’s greatest heroes.
IDF soldiers in Gaza have found caches of child sized suicide vests, the kind used by Palestinian groups in previous intifadas. Amnesty International has said of such groups, they “have repeatedly shown total disregard for the most fundamental human rights, notably the right to life, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and by using Palestinian children in armed attacks.”
Those who are calling for a cease fire or end to war, who accuse Israel of “radicalizing,” creating another generation of terrorists, should face the fact that future generations of murderous jihadis already exist. They were created by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and UNRWA-the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. UNRWA funds Palestinian schools known for indoctrinating its students with antisemitic hatred and devotion to death.
If the IDF succeeds in ousting Hamas, it will present the international community with an opportunity to defund and dismantle UNRWA. As part of the new Gaza, educators and mental health professionals should be deployed to deprogram children and to create an educational system preparing them for a life with multiple possibilities, not one limited to suicide or homicide.
If the IDF succeeds in freeing Gaza from Hamas, it will save the lives of future generations of both Palestinian and Israeli children. Hamas will be prevented from making good on its promise to perpetually repeat the slaughters of October 7.
For the sake of these children, Israel must defeat Hamas and the United States and the international community must allow it to do so.
References upon request