The radicalisation of children in Palestine is the reason why terrorist attacks against Israelis are perpetrated by younger and younger Palestinians who are increasingly resigned to peace.
The long-running and difficult to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict has one aspect that remains unclear: the violent terrorist radicalisation of minors within the Palestinian-controlled territories.
The territories are the product of the territorial dispute and division of the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, thanks to which both sides agreed on what was then a promising peace: Area A for the Palestinians, Area B under territorial dispute until borders are defined (which can never be the 1967 armistice lines), and Area C under Israeli sovereignty and legislation.
The last three decades for these territories under Palestinian control were the scene of radicalisation of minors and the use of education not as a tool for change and progress in societies, but as a way of perpetuating the conflict and ensuring that the spiral of violence, intolerance and harassment of Jews will never end.
This is not a new issue, but part of an evolution of authoritarian characters who have found in children the most vulnerable social link to indoctrinate and manipulate. We can mention the Hitler Youth of Nazi Germany who later formed the Schutzstaffel, better known as the SS, and who defended the Third Reich until the last hours of 1945. There was also the case of the Young Pioneers of the Soviet Union and the episode of a boy who ended up informing on his father. There were also the Fascist Youth in Italy in 1922.
Instead of associating youth with the future and generational change of the country, children in Palestine are the instruments of discarding used by their leaders to perpetuate the war against Israel. In the last few weeks three terrorist attacks took place in Israel and one of them at the hands of a 13 year old Palestinian who struck in Jerusalem a few hours after the murder of 7 Jews on Shabbat.
How are Palestinian children educated? We must not lose sight of the fact that Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2005, when Israel withdrew unilaterally, and the Palestinian Authority controls the territories of Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. In other words, the training and education of these children is the sole responsibility of those in control of these territories.
There is a universal sentiment that the closest environments, starting with the family and loved ones, are the first to influence the development of a child’s life, feelings and thoughts. Palestinians today between the ages of 18 and 35 have grown up under a violence that is directed in two directions: a vertical one that is promoted by the authorities themselves who reproduce inflammatory speeches against the Jewish state and people, the Israelis (also composed of between 20% and 23% of their population of Arab origin) and other Arab neighbours who are today normalising their relations with Israel. There is no unanimous intention to promote a climate of peacemaking regardless of whether there are Palestinian leaders who do seek peace with Israel.
There is also a horizontal direction that is spreading rapidly within Palestinian society and runs through it: the martyrdom of those who attack in Israel, the public funerals and the familiar handing out of sweets amidst the celebrations after each attack. In the Palestinian territories, the news of an Israeli wounded or killed in an attack is greeted with jubilation, fireworks and the handing out of sweets by the mothers of the terrorists who are often killed. The security fence, which separates Israel from the West Bank, also separates families mourning their dead in the attack and other families celebrating that their children were the perpetrators of the attack.
Every child who spends his or her early years in the Palestinian territories enters an incubator of violence and hunger for death that prepares him or her to be the explosive of the future, that is, that dehumanised cog in the service of Palestinian Arab terrorist interests. It is not enough for them to be the prey of the conflict, they are also prey to the clan and factional disputes within the multiple Palestinian leadership that violently disputes their interests.
In the course of the second intifada between 2000 and 2005, and following repeated Palestinian refusals to sign a lasting peace, the Israeli army raided the Palestinian-controlled territory of Hebron. In one room they found a family album containing a photograph of a baby dressed as a Hamas suicide bomber and wrapped in an explosive belt.
This intention to prepare children for a war they will not understand in their short lives also takes place in the Hamas summer camps that are coordinated by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al Qassam and Al-Quds Brigades. This idea of recruitment is not alien to recent Palestinian history: in 2000 it was former PLO leader Yassir Arafat himself who called on all Palestinian children to join the army that would eventually raise the Palestinian flag in Jerusalem… 23 years later, these children have become leaders of Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority or Islamic Jihad.
Military training in the camps includes, in addition to the classic methods of kidnapping Israeli soldiers, simulation and augmented reality to shoot at Israeli forces and civilians on the Temple Mount or from the Al Aqsa Mosque. Proper games and activities for children are replaced by preparations so that by the end of the summer that child will be sufficiently bent to join the ranks of Hamas.
Schools in Palestine, which are transmitters of anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews, must be supervised by the United Nations and UNRWA, the agency for Palestinian refugees. At the end of 2022, it was the European Parliament that began objecting to materials distributed in schools in the Palestinian-controlled territories for their anti-Semitic, Judeophobic and anti-Palestinian content.
After the latest attack in Jerusalem on Friday 10 February, the security fence again separated two antagonistic realities: in Israel a 6-year-old boy had been one of the fatalities. In the Palestinian-controlled territories it was 6-year-olds who were at the forefront of the classic celebrations after an Israeli is killed.
It is not only the perpetuity of the conflict, which already condemns Arab and Israeli civilians, but also that Palestinian children are becoming the explosives of the future.