"Like this our children play, they love Shahada 'martyrdom.'"
UN Ignores Hamas Training Of Child Soldiers
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The annual report of the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict highlights progress it claims was made in 2012 to protect children living in countries affected by conflict, but also documents how the evolving character and tactics of war are creating unprecedented threats for them.
“In 2012, boys and girls from several countries had better protection from the effects of conflict, but new and ongoing crises in Mali, Central African Republic and Syria for example had –and continue to have– a devastating effect on children,” declared Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She spoke to correspondents at UN headquarters on June 12th.
The annual report covers 22 situations taking place in 21 countries where children are victims of violence.
This year, the report’s list of shame includes 55 armed forces and groups from 14 countries, including 11 new parties in Mali, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria. They recruit and use children, kill and maim, commit sexual violence or attacks on schools and hospitals in conflict zones.
One group, the Hamas terrorist organization who controls the Gaza Strip, seems to have eluded the UN report’s list of shame. Even if it were on the list, Hamas’ leaders would see it as a badge of honor.
Senior Hamas commander Zaher Jabarin said in a video interview that Hamas labors “day and night” in educating Palestinian children in Gaza to become suicide bombers. Underscoring Hamas’ commitment to the use of children for combat, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced that the Hamas-run Education Ministry is establishing a military academy in the Gaza Strip to train and educate schoolchildren for battle against Israel.
The Telegraph reported last April on the extent of Hamas’ child soldier training program, which involves “37,000 Palestinian boys aged between 15 and 17”:
“Palestinian schoolboys are learning how to fire Kalashnikovs, throw grenades and plant improvised explosive devices as part of a programme run by Hamas’s education ministry.”
Five thousand teens wearing military uniforms also attended a two-week camp at a Hamas military base, where Hamas’ armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, trained them in hand-to-hand combat and urban warfare techniques.
Last month, Hamas’ English-language Twitter feed tweeted a ghastly picture of a child under ten years of age, role playing as a dead child solder in what appears to be a mock military funeral. The caption reads “Like this our children play, they love Shahada ‘martyrdom.’”
The Secretary General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict focuses mostly on African countries, some of which such as Chad are in the process of implementing an action plan to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of children soldiers. However, the UN is apparently willing to turn a blind eye to Hamas’ expansion and glorification of its child soldier training program.
In the section of the report entitled “Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel,” it refers to “an increase in the use of lethal force by Israeli forces,” which has affected children. The report also blames Israeli settlers for injuries to Palestinian children. Israel was also held singularly responsible for child deaths and injuries in Gaza. While Hamas had no compunctions about using Palestinian children as human shields and even glorifying children killed in battle as “martyrs,” the report repeats (without supporting evidence) charges that Israelis were responsible for using children as human shields. There was not a single word regarding Hamas’ avowed intention to train children as soldiers and put them in harm’s way, contrary to international law.
Of course, one should not be surprised by all this, since it is consistent with the UN’s attitude that the Palestinians can do no wrong and the Israelis can do no right.