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Palestinian death culture to blame for teen’s death in Jenin

Any anger at the tragic death of Jana Zakarneh should be directed at the uncle who allowed her to go up to the roof, the gunman who allowed her to remain there and Palestinian society as a whole for glorifying terrorism.

Weapons training at summer camp in northern Gaza Strip; Among the spectators is Hamas official Mushir Al-Masri, July 25-28, 2022. Credit: MEMRI.
Weapons training at summer camp in northern Gaza Strip; Among the spectators is Hamas official Mushir Al-Masri, July 25-28, 2022. Credit: MEMRI.
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of killing 16-year-old Palestinian Jana Zakarneh “in cold blood” while she was filming a firefight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen from a rooftop in Jenin. That was a lie.

Zakarneh was indeed a victim—of the culture of hate and violence that permeates Palestinian society.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’ office described Zakarneh’s death as “shocking” and called for an investigation. He shouldn’t have been shocked.

Not only do Palestinians fail to protect their children from the dangers of armed conflict—in fact many actually encourage their children to despise Jews and rejoice at their deaths.

Any anger at Zakarneh’s death should be directed at the uncle who allowed her to go up to the roof, the gunman who allowed her to continue filming with him on the roof and Palestinian society as a whole for glorifying terrorism.

Palestinians are taught from early childhood that Jews are evil sub-humans who stole their land. This indoctrination takes place both in schools and via television programs.

On one episode of Palestinian children’s show “The Best Home,” for example, a girl recites a poem calling for “vengeance,” “liberation” and a “war that will destroy the Zionist soul.” In the same episode, another girl recites a poem that reads, “A Zionist stole the land of Palestine.”

The P.A. school system honors terrorists—even naming many schools after them. Five are named after Dalal al-Mughrabi, who took part in an attack on an Israeli bus in 1978 during which 37 Israelis were killed, including 13 children.

Palestinian children are taught to idolize terrorists like al-Mughrabi, and if possible, become “martyrs” just like her. No surprise, then, that Palestinian children trade “baseball cards” bearing photos of their favorite terrorists. The latest trend among young Palestinians? Wearing necklaces with pictures of their favorite terrorists on them.

The notorious United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—financed through donations from the United States and Europe—runs schools that inculcate Palestinian children with hatred for Jews.

In a documentary film about UNRWA schools, children reveal the results of their training.

“Right now, I am prepared to be a suicide bomber,” says a 13-year-old Palestinian boy at one UNRWA-run school. Another student says, “They teach us that Jews are fickle, bad people. I am ready to stab a Jew and drive [a car] over them.”

Despite promises of reform over the years, under pressure from Western donors, the hatred taught in UNRWA schools has only gotten worse. Whereas Israel was vilified by name in textbooks published prior to 2017, it isn’t even mentioned in later material, and doesn’t even appear on maps.

Palestinian children attend terrorist-themed summer camps, where they undergo training with the goal of killing Jews.

Children as young as seven are given military-style training, including in the use of firearms. Photos taken at Hamas summer camps show children posing with AK-47 rifles.

Last year, at Hamas’s “Pioneers of Liberation” camp, campers were trained via computer simulations to shoot soldiers and policemen at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Other simulations included sniper training and the use of shoulder-launched missiles.

Palestinian terrorists use young Palestinians as human shields. This includes placing weapons in or near civilian structures, and encouraging children to participate in violent confrontations with Israeli soldiers. Indeed, participating in a violent confrontation with the IDF was exactly what Jana Zakarneh was doing when she was killed.

It was not the first time Zakarneh had filmed a firefight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen. Initial investigations revealed that she served as a photographer for local gunmen on a regular basis. Her cellphone footage is evidence of this.

Just last week, the Israeli military provided evidence of rocket launching sites near schools in the Gaza Strip. Terrorists intentionally locate their rocket sites near civilian buildings to prevent Israeli attack, and increase the risk of collateral damage in the case of an Israeli strike.

Hamas actually contacted the educators that run the schools to promote the location of their weapons there. The very people who are supposed to be educating Palestinian children and keeping them safe instead endanger their lives by allowing terrorists to place weapons in their schools.

Two weeks earlier, UNRWA discovered a tunnel that terrorists had dug under one of its schools. Such tunnels are frequently used to smuggle weapons and other supplies into the Gaza Strip. They are also used to launch attacks inside Israeli territory, such as in 2006, when Hamas terrorists kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

UNRWA condemned the use of its schools as sites for terrorist infrastructure, but the condemnation rang hollow as this was not the first time such infrastructure has been found in the U.N. agency’s schools.

As Palestinian children get older, they soon learn that violent “resistance” is lucrative, too. Palestinian leaders incentivize harming and killing Jews through a “pay-for-slay” policy, according to which the P.A. pays salaries to individuals who perpetrate acts of terror against Israel, as well as their families. In 2020, according to a high-ranking PLO official, the P.A. spent $187 million on these salaries.

Payments to terrorists and their families can continue for life, and for murder of multiple victims can be as high as $4,000 per month, more than three times the average Palestinian salary.

By contrast, the rules of engagement for the Israel Defense Forces are designed to avoid civilian casualties, especially those of children. In fact, the IDF Code of Conduct states, “IDF soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants, or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.”

In the face of the slander that Israel is murdering Palestinian children, we are reminded of former Prime Minister Golda Meir’s profound observation that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Jason Shvili is a Contributing Editor for Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

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