Palestinian children and Jewish state
THE war Israel is waging against the Palestinian people is not limited to ethnic cleansing and the occupation of their land. It includes an economic war, which aims for their surrender through starvation, and a propaganda war aimed at slandering their reputation, character, culture and even their faith.
In its propaganda war Israel has spread many lies particularly using Palestinian children, and it is amazing how gullible some Western media are when it comes to Israel over and over again.
We have heard many times the racist allegations that `Palestinians don't love their children' and `Palestinian parents teach their children to hate'. Palestinians don't teach their children to hate Israelis; Israel's occupying army is doing a very good job of that. And now their latest invention is that Palestinians are using their children to carry explosives and commit suicide bombings.
Deceptions and lies are nothing new for Israel's leaders. One of their first lies spread by an early Zionist leader Israel Zangwill was that Palestine was `A land without a people for a people without a land'. At the time Palestine was not only fully inhabited but it was one of the most advanced countries in the Middle East. Israel's former prime minister Golda Meir claimed in 1967 that `There was no such thing as Palestinians. They didn't exist.'
Of course over the last 56 years there were many other lies. Some of the newer ones go from `Barak's generous offer at Camp David' to `There is no Palestinian partner with whom Israel can negotiate with' to the racist wall Israel is building deep in the 1967-occupied territories which they call `a security fence'. This leads us to the current lie that Palestinians don't love their children.
Israel's latest allegations that Palestinian groups are using children to smuggle bombs through military checkpoints, is pure fabrication. On March 15 the Israeli occupation forces declared that they found explosives inside the bag that Abdullah Qura'an, 11, was transporting. The boy, his family and eyewitnesses completely refuted Israel's story. But the story most covered by the media took place on March 24 when Israeli forces accused religious organisations of recruiting Hussam Abdo, 16, to explode him at a checkpoint. Abdo is reported to be "gullible, easily manipulated and a bit slow mentally" and had no affiliation with any Palestinian group.
One of Abdo's brothers told the Israeli website "Arabs 48" that his brother is a victim of a dirty trick" by the Israeli intelligence services. Organisations monitoring the rights of children in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict said there was no indication of an upturn, as Israeli propaganda claims, in the use of children by Palestinians to carry out their attacks, AFP reported. Amnesty International voiced similar evaluation.
The BBC's Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin called the story "a cynical manipulation of a Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes." In her report last week Guerin noted Israel's desire to gain a public relations advantage from the arrest. She described how the army "paraded the child in front of the international media." Israel's aims are clear: The idea is to draw attention away from the war crimes its occupation army is committing against the Palestinians to dehumanise them.
On March 28 the renowned Israeli columnist and writer Gideon Levy commented in the daily newspaper Haaretz on Hussam Abdo's story saying `The cheap attempt to win points on the international public opinion front from the picture of the child is ridiculous... The world knows that Israel's hands are not clean, they are stained with the blood of children'.
On April 4, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 651 children have been killed by Israel in the last three-and-a-half years and 33 newborns have died at Israeli military `checkpoints' as a result of not allowing their mothers to reach a hospital or birth clinic. Over 5,000 children have been injured, an estimated ten per cent of whom have been permanently crippled for life. A recent report by the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs revealed that 348 children are imprisoned in Israeli jails and a further 209 turn 18 while imprisoned.
Twenty-four of the children imprisoned are under administrative detention without charge or trial, and 201 are still awaiting trial.Thirty children require medical attention, and over 80 per cent of all the children have been tortured.
Generations of Palestinian children are suffering in refugee camps for the last 56 years as a result of Israel's ethnic-cleansing of over 70 per cent of the Palestinian nation in 1948, and denied their right to return, for no reason other than they are not Jews.
Throughout Israel's brutal occupation, the occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed serious violations of children's rights, mainly the right to life, education, health care and their right to adequate nutrition. Inside Israel Palestinian children who are regarded as Israeli citizens are treated as second-class citizens like their parents.
In a recent article in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, Professor Tanya Reinhart, a prominent Israeli academic, wrote: "We, who grew up with the memory of the holocaust, have set it for ourselves as the only standard of evil. Indeed, no crime equals and compares to the systematic and preplanned elimination of six million people.
"For five months, there has been a process of slow, but systematic and preplanned, elimination of Palestinians in the occupied territories. We won't find it in the statistics of the dead. Israel couldn't get away with thousands of dead. So, soldiers who were carefully trained for the job are conducting a manhunt - aiming at the eyes or knees, in order to injure but not kill, in a daily quota which doesn't distinguish between demonstrators and passers-by. At least 12,000 injured were reported so far, many of them blind, crippled and maimed. Their fate is to die slowly, far away from the cameras. But our hands are clean - those who die because of their handicap don't enter the statistics of evil".
Ali Kazak is Head of the General Palestinian Delegation to Australia and Ambassador of Palestine to Vanuatu and East Timor.
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