Children and Armed Conflict
Delivered to the Security Council by Ambassador Ron Prosor on 25 March 2015
Around the world today children are exploited in conflict, targeted with violence, and used as instruments of war. The crimes are horrendous.
In January, Boko Haram wrapped a young girl in explosives and sent her into a busy Nigerian market. The explosion killed 16 people and injured another 20. This is not a world we should accept – a world where 10 years-olds are used as weapons of war.
When we fail to protect children, we fail to protect our future.
I speak before this Council today as the Permanent Representative of the State of Israel, but also as a father and grandfather. I raised my sons, Lior and Tomer, and my daughter, Oren, in Israel and I know all too well the abnormal normality of raising a family in Israel.
Our children go to schools with security guards stationed at the door, we walk through metal detectors to enter a mall, and our homes are built with a reinforced concrete room to protect our families from rockets.
Like other Israeli parents, I want to see the day when our children can grow up and grow old without hearing the wail of a red alert siren or the boom of rockets overhead. We want our children to enjoy a life free from terrorism - but that day has not yet come.
Last June, Israelis were numb with horror when they learned that Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and brutally murdered three Israeli teenagers, Eyal, Gilad and Naftalie. We learned that terrorists will target an Israeli child making his way home from school.
Last August, 4-year-old Daniel Tregerman was playing with his younger siblings when a mortar fired by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza struck his home and killed him. We learned that terrorists will target an Israeli child playing in his own home.
In December, Palestinian terrorists threw a firebomb at a car carrying 11 year-old Ayala Shapira. Flames engulfed the car and Ayala suffered third-degree burns to her face and upper body. We learned that terrorists will even target an Israeli child sitting in the backseat of her parent’s car.
The Israeli people have learned too many painful lessons. Terrorists have robbed our children of their dreams, their childhood, and their futures.
Hamas may claim to represent its people’s wellbeing, but its actions reflect countless wrongdoings. The terrorist group deploys minors as suicide bombers and recruits them to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers; it uses children as human shields; and places children in harm’s way by using schools, hospitals and civilian neighborhoods as a base for their terror activity.
We saw abundant evidence of these crimes last summer. Here in New York, the underground system is called the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In Gaza, Hamas built a Metropolitan Terror Authority – miles of dense terror tunnels that extended like tentacles into Israel. These tunnels were built using Palestinian child laborers, many of whom were killed in the process.
Hamas’s terror tunnels opened at the doorsteps of Israeli communities – outside homes, kindergartens, and playgrounds – all with the deliberate intention of targeting and murdering Israeli children.
The Palestinian leadership regularly turns to the international community for financial support, but when it comes to funding, training, arming, and indoctrinating thousands of young Palestinian children, there is no shortage of money.
In January, Hamas – which sits in the Palestinian unity government - sent over 17,000 Palestinian youngsters to 18 new military training camps. The boys who attend these camps are trained to fire weapons, storm IDF posts, and abduct IDF soldiers.
The indoctrination of Palestinian children is nothing new. They are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups, attend schools named after terrorists, and are taught from textbooks that describe Zionism as racism. In mosques, religious leaders are spreading vicious libels accusing Jews of destroying Muslim holy sites.
In their free time, Palestinian children play on sports teams named after murderers, watch television programs that teach that Jews should be killed, and read cartoons urging them to commit terror attacks against Israelis.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Senior Hamas official, Fathi Hamad, said that, “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry… This is why [we] have formed human shields of the women, the children, [and] the elderly.” The evidence is overwhelming. Hamas has no interest in building its people up – it is only committed to tearing Israel down.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said, “We will only have peace when our enemies love their children more than they hate ours.”
Across the Middle East, terrorists and extremists are poisoning the minds of the next generation, teaching them to hate, vilify, and dehumanize Israelis and Jews. We have lost an entire generation to incitement. Enough is enough.
Send the message that children should be sent to playgrounds and not battlegrounds; that they belong in schools and not on suicide missions; and most importantly, that children have infinite value as human beings and not as human shields.
Thank you, Mr. President.