October 31, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 147

Arab Journalist Decries Palestinian Child-Soldiers

October 31, 2000
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 147

Huda Al-Husseini, journalist with the London based pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote the following article which was published on October 27, 2000.

"If what was included in the British Times' report the day before yesterday accurate - that Palestinian children undergo weeks of training stone-throwing in order to confront the Israeli military apparatus and that they are promised to go the heaven - if all this is accurate, it is frightening. Very frightening. While UN organizations act to save the child-soldiers, especially in Africa, from the control of militia leaders who hurl them into the furnace of gang-fighting, some Palestinian leaders show up and consciously issue orders which have the purpose of ending their childhood, even if it means their last breath."

"Before the accusations start, I want to know why we, the Arabs, insist on dying instead of living for the sake of our homelands. If these children have nothing to lose, and they think the training is part of their childish entertainment, are we supposed to continue pushing them with hypocrisy and stupid enthusiasm to actually lose their lives? Have we exhausted all the means, and all the arguments, have we exhausted our logic and brains [so that] we have nothing left to do but to gamble with the lives of children and push them to confront Israel? Or maybe the Palestinian leaders, whether those who are enrolled in the PA or those who are getting ready to fill a role in it, put their trust in the humanity of Israel? If this is what they do, then they are wrong."

"Where is the balance between what these children give away, meaning their lives, and the wisdom of these leaders? Was it wisdom that led Yasser Arafat to say that if Ehud Barak doesn't like it "he can go to hell?' What kind of a leader handles such a situation with such logic? What kind of independence do the Palestinian leaders want if their wisdom is summarized by the phrase: "let them drink of the sea-water" or the phrase: "let them go to hell?"

"What kind of independence is built on the blood of children while the leaders are safe and so are their children and grandchildren? Are only the miserable destined to die in the spring of their lives? Those children who are killed may not, in their short lives, have enjoyed a fresh piece of bread, sleeping in a warm bed, the happiness of putting on a new piece of cloth, or carrying books to school whose leaves are not torn. The leaders should forgive us for saying that they have enjoyed all of these [things]. When Israel bombed Arafat's headquarters in Gaza, [Gaza Preventive Security Apparatus Chief] Muhammad Dahlan appeared saying that Arafat was not hurt and is in a safe place. Similar to this security which is provided to the Palestinian leader, he himself should provide the children with wisdom and prosperous future. Isn't it sad that a Palestinian mother who loses a child looks around and cannot find nearby other mothers crying because every mother waits her turn to receive the corpse of a child? They take the children from their mothers and at the same time they strip the mother of any sympathy."

"The child-corpse turns into a number. Today, two children died, or maybe three. The humanity of Israel? When did it ever appear? Do we mourn these children? There are many mourning poems in Arabic poetry but today the children die. They kill the children and Sharon still pollutes their memory with his existence. We do not expect Arafat to call for end of the Intifada, but to call these children to go to school or to seek cover because they are the future. The time of Arafat and the people around him has reached its dusk."

"These children deserve to live, first of all, before we push them to find death. But what are we doing to them? We abuse their innocence, we supply them with tons of stones, while we sit in our offices and commend their death. Then we accept an invitation for a working lunch or dinner and talk about those children who died holding stones, those who died, probably, hungry."

"A moment of conscience if you don't mind. The humanity of Israel does not exist, the world has no pity, but what about us?"

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