THE ABUSE OF INNOCENCE
by David Frankfurter (from "letter from Israel")
The use of children in the Arafat war of terror has reached an all time low.

It would seem that a 14 year old, a little "slow" in his thinking and not well accepted by his peers, was so impressed by his
teacher's description of the virgins awaiting him in heaven and the NIS 100 (about $US 22) that would be given to his mother,
that he agreed to don a suicide belt and attempt to kill some Israelis.  Alert soldiers managed to prevent a disaster.

The actual arrest was broadcast on Israeli television.  It was heart-wrenching to see the boy cut the suicide belt off himself with
scissors that the soldiers sent him using a small robot.  It was pathetic seeing how afraid he was that he would actually be killed.
It was infuriating to think of the callous exploitation.

This case comes hot on the heels of an attempt to use an 11 year old, who earned a living as a porter, helping the elderly and
infirm carry parcels through a checkpoint, to carry a bomb past the guards.  And when he was discovered, the brave terrorists
tried to blow him and the surrounding soldiers up from their hiding place, using the cellular telephone they had attached to the
bomb.

The callous use of children is not new.  The idea of using children as 'publicity suicide' can be traced directly to Arafat.  When he
urges children to "Jihad, Jihad" he holds up the ideal of a young Palestinian Arab poster boy killed while threatening Israeli
troops with a sling-shot.

Terrorists have been frequently photographed firing from a position surrounded by children.  When the Israelis return fire, and
children are killed, this helps the Palestinian Arab propaganda machine.  Terrorists hide out and put their weapons factories in
residential areas.

Children have been sent on suicide missions, attempting to infiltrate Israeli settlements, throwing pipe-bombs ... the list is as
long as it is sad.

For a short while there was a respite.  During Abu Mazen's short Prime-Ministerial stint, he issued orders to stop using children
in this way - and it stopped.  Arafat continued the incitement, but in the field the wishes of the Prime Minister were honoured.
Abu Mazen had long criticized the use of children in this callous manner.  He complained in the Arab press - citing 40 cases of
children having their arms blown off trying to throw pipe-bombs at Jewish targets - in exchange for $1.
http://www.idf.il/english/announcements/2002/june/mazen.stm

Nor is this phenomena unique to the Palestinian Arabs.  Last April,  the Telegraph reported of suicide belts being found in a
Baghdad classroom.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/04/13/wbomb13.xml

Sadly, human rights organizations are so busy focusing on the one and only world evil - Israel - that these basic abuses of human
rights go unnoticed.  And when the epithet of 'international law' is bandied around, no-one thinks of the Geneva convention which protect civilians by demanding that combatants wear uniforms and keep the battle away from children and civilians.

In fact, a joint statement by Physicians for Human Rights - Israel and Defence for Children International (Palestinian Section) and
the Gaza Community Mental Health Program decried the use of children in the conflict ... and then went on to focus on the
breach of the child's rights perpetrated by the IDF and Israeli media in publishing details of the child who was used to smuggle
bombs through the checkpoint.  An interesting set of priorities.  Given that nothing to date has shocked the world into forcing the
Palestinian Arabs to keep children out of the conflict, wouldn't one expect them to encourge the ony thing which seems to have
prompted a reaction?

I urge you to turn to human rights organizations and ask them to stop blindly demonizing Israel, and start to focus on the rights
of children - both Jewish and Arab - to grow up in an environment free from fear of the next terrorist attack, and free from the
hate indoctrination that is prolonging this conflict.

To comment on this letter, or to review my archives, see
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