By Steven Stalinsky, executive director of The Middle East Media Research
National Review Online, March 19, 2004.
It has been reported that at least 29 suicide bombers younger than 18 years of
age have been exploited into committing attacks by Palestinian terrorist
organizations over the past few years.
This past Monday an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was apprehended in
Nablus with explosives to be used in another apparent suicide attack.
The concept of educating children to become suicide bombers often appears in
weekly Palestinian sermons by Khatibs (preachers) who are paid employees of
the Palestinian Authority (PA). The sermons are broadcast live every Friday at
noon from mosques under control of the PA and are shown on PA television.
The most senior Palestinian Authority religious figure, Mufti Sheikh Ikrimeh
Sabri, is a vocal proponent of sending children on terrorist attacks.
In an interview with the Egyptian paper Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, he explained
his thoughts on child martyrs, as well as the joy of their mothers: “I feel the
martyr is lucky because the angels usher him to his wedding in heaven. I feel
the earth moves under the occupiers’ feet… There is no doubt that a child
suggests that the new generation will carry on the mission with
determination. The younger the martyr – the greater and the more I
They willingly sacrifice their offspring for the sake
of freedom. It is a great display of the power of belief. The mother is
participating in the great reward of the jihad to liberate Al-Aqsa…
I talked to a young man… said: ‘… I want to marry the black-eyed
women of heaven.’ The next day he became a martyr. I am sure his
mother was filled with joy about his heavenly marriage. Such a son must have
such a mother.”
Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi, one of the most popular Palestinian imams, is especially
vocal on educating children to become martyrs by sending them on terrorist
attacks. During a sermon at the ‘Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, he repeats the following
discussion he had with a child who approached him about becoming a suicide
“A young man said to me, ‘I am 14 years old, and I have four years left
before I blow myself up’…. We, the Muslims on this good and blessed land, are
all – each one of us – seekers of Martyrdom….
The Koran is very clear on this: The greatest enemies of the Islamic
nation are the Jews, may Allah fight them…. Blessings for whoever assaulted a
soldier…. Blessings for whoever has raised his sons on the education of jihad
and Martyrdom; blessings for whoever has saved a bullet in order to stick
it in a Jew’s head…”
On another occasion, Madhi praised children who put on explosive belts in
order to blow up Jews: “Shame and remorse on whoever refrained from raising
his children on jihad… Blessings to whoever waged jihad for the sake of Allah;
blessings to whoever raided for the sake of Allah; blessings to whoever put a
belt of explosives on his body or on his sons’ and plunged into the midst of the
Jews, crying ‘Allahu Akbar, praise to Allah, There is no God but Allah and
Muhammad is His messenger’….
Allah, show us a black day for the Jews, like the day of ‘Aad and
Thamud . Allah, turn them into pillage for us. Allah, we strive
for martyrdom for your sake…”
If there was only one Palestinian child left, he or she would be sacrificed by the
Palestinian people for the sake of jihad, according to Madhi in another sermon:
“Even if they slaughter all of the Palestinian people and the only survivors will
be one single Palestinian baby girl and one single Palestinian baby boy, the baby
boy will marry the baby girl and they will give birth to the one who will liberate
Jerusalem from the defilement of the Jews….
While they sacrifice the last Palestinian child and the
last Palestinian fetus, they will satisfy themselves with
victories on the soccer courts….
It was rightly claimed that a thousand verbal shells cannot compare to
one shell made of iron. It was rightly claimed that what was taken by force will
be regained only by the use of force. We must prepare ourselves in accordance
with the religion of Allah and the Law of Allah. We must educate our children
on the love of jihad for the sake of Allah and the love of fighting for the sake of
In addition to the usual calling of the Jews “sons of Pigs and Apes,” who
“deserve death,” last Friday’s sermon by Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris discussed the
joy a mother has when hearing her child committed a suicide bombing:
“…But they accuse us of being terrorists. Terrorists, because when the
Palestinian mother welcomes her martyred son, she wishes to receive him as a
corpse. She does not want him to be alive…. The wish of the Palestinian
mother is to see the body of her son the martyr…”
The importance of educating youth for battle has also been the topic of
sermons by Sheikh Mudeiris, who stated on February 28, 2003, from the Khalil
Al-Wazir Mosque in Gaza:
“And here, I want to emphasize, oh people of Palestine, that our
children, the fruit of our loins – we must protect them…. The children need
proper education because it is they who will lead the struggle after us, on the
day when they will grow up and become strong and we will grow old. They are
our children, who will conduct the battle after us.”
Children must not be used by armed groups
Amnesty International press release, March 24, 2004.
Amnesty International is gravely concerned about reports that earlier today a
14-year-old Palestinian child was found to be carrying explosives when
attempting to pass through the Israeli army checkpoint at Huwara, at the
entrance of the West Bank town of Nablus.
Reports indicate that the boy was wearing an explosive belt, which would
suggest that he was knowingly carrying it. According to Israeli army reports the
boy may have intended to detonate the explosive belt, and thus commit suicide,
near soldiers manning the checkpoint.
Last week, Israeli soldiers discovered a bag of explosives in the possession of
an 11-year old Palestinian child at the same checkpoint. The boy, who regularly
carried bags for travellers from one side of the checkpoint to the other, was
reported not to have been aware that one of the bags on his cart contained
“Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned suicide bombings and other
attacks against civilians by Palestinian armed groups as crimes against
humanity. Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is
an abomination. We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce
“Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa
Martyrs’s brigades, must put an immediate end to the use or involvement of
any kind of children in armed activity.”
In the past three years there have been other cases in which Palestinian
children have been used by Palestinian armed groups to carry out or attempt to
carry out suicide bombings or other attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
In January a 17-year-old Palestinian detonated an explosive belt he was
wearing as he was being tracked down by Israeli soldiers, killing himself and
without hurting anyone else. The boy apparently intended to carry out a suicide
attack to revenge the killing the previous week by the Israeli army of his
15-year-old brother and his cousin, neither of whom were armed when they
were shot dead by Israeli soldiers. He had reportedly been given the explosive
belt by members of the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian armed groups have pressured families of those who have been
killed while carrying out attacks, including children, not to condemn but to
welcome and endorse their relatives’ actions.