Palestinian NGOs take a hypocritical approach towards children’s rights. On the one hand, they claim to champion those rights and allegations of their abuse feature prominently in NGO campaigns against Israel. But these NGOs ignore the recruitment and use of Palestinian children by terrorist organizations, as well as the indoctrination of children to engage in violence.

Relatedly, Palestinian NGOs deny the very existence of Palestinian terror. They assert that internationally-recognized terror groups are merely “political parties” and violence against Israelis is a legitimate expression of the “right of resistance.” Unsurprisingly in this context, a number of Palestinian NGOs have close links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.

As shown in detail in this article, terror-tied Palestinian NGOs—Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)—regularly distort the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Palestinian minors in terror incidents. They ignore or minimize the violent attacks perpetrated by the minors that precipitated their deaths, and blame Israel for deploying self-defense measures to protect the victims of such attacks. In situations in which the minors died in clashes with Israeli forces and violent rioting, the NGOs erase this essential element of the incidents. In addition, they make factual claims that conflict with reports from media outlets and official accounts.

Even in the few instances in which NGOs acknowledge the violent actions of Palestinian minors, they often condemn the response of Israeli forces while failing to criticize the terrorist groups that recruit these children and orchestrate the violent clashes in which they take part.

Ultimately, these NGOs seek to use allegations of violating children’s rights in their international campaigns to sanction Israel. In particular, the NGOs provide information to U.N. reporting mechanisms such as the UNICEF-headed Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) Working Group. This is an attempt to have the IDF added to a U.N. blacklist of children’s rights abusers, alongside terrorist organizations such as the Taliban, Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

The following examines the circumstances surrounding the deaths of several Palestinian teenagers at the hands of Israeli security forces and the response to their deaths by the NGOs in question.

Sanad Abu Atiyeh (17)

On March 31, 2022, 17-year-old Sanad Abu Atiyeh was shot dead by IDF forces during a gun battle in Jenin. According to the IDF, Abu Atiyeh was among three Palestinian “armed men” who fired at Israeli forces.

During his funeral march, Abu Atiyeh was wrapped in a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) flag and wore a PIJ headband, a practice reserved for the terror group’s members. Prior to his death, Abu Atiyeh wrote on his Facebook profile, “The living martyr Sanad Abu Al-Saber. The soul shall not know rest until avenging the martyrs of Jenin refugee camp, Jamil Al-Amouri and Abdullah Al-Husari.”

Al-Amouri and Al-Husari were both members of the PIJ’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, who were killed in gunfights with Israeli security forces.

In an official poster eulogizing PIJ member Ahmed Nasser Al-Saadi, PIJ referred to Abu Atiyeh as “the boy of [Islamic] Jihad,” and named him among other PIJ members. Multiple Arabic-language news sources corroborated that Abu Atiyeh was a PIJfighter” and member. In an interview with Wattan, Abu Atiyeh’s father claimed that “his martyr son Sanad dreamed of becoming a martyr” and that Sanad said, “I want to become a martyr, I want nothing else but to become a martyr.”

Multiple pictures of Abu Atiyeh carrying military-grade weapons circulated on social media following his death.

NGO Reporting

On March 31, 2022, DCI-P reported, “Palestinian residents reportedly threw stones at the armored Israeli military vehicles as they withdrew from Jenin refugee camp. … An eyewitness reported that gunshots were fired from the refugee camp. … One of the armored Israeli military vehicles drove in reverse pursuing those who were fleeing. … An Israeli soldier exited the passenger side of the jeep. … The soldier shot [terrorist Yazan] al-Saadi … [who] fell to the ground about two meters (six feet) from a car that Sanad and the eyewitness were hiding behind. Sanad was shot as he approached al-Saadi in an attempt to render aid.”

DCI-P did not mention that Abu Atiyeh was one of three gunmen who shot at IDF soldiers, and also ignored his violent background and apparent affiliation to the PIJ.

Using the derogatory acronym “IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces)” to refer to the IDF, PCHR said, “IOF moved into Jenin refugee camp. … Palestinians gathered and threw stones and Molotov Cocktails at IOF. … The camp witnessed violent clashes between armed Palestinians and IOF. IOF heavily opened fire at the protesters near the abovementioned house. As a result, 2 Palestinians were killed, including … Sanad Mohammed Khalil Abu Saber (17).”

PCHR noted the IDF report on the incident, but asserted without evidence, “PCHR’s investigations refute these allegations as those who were killed and injured were civilians.”

Nadar Haytham Rayan (17)

On March 15, 2022, 17-year-old Nadar Rayan was killed by Israeli forces in Balata. The Israeli Border Police stated that “a group of Palestinians hurled stones and firebombs at them” and that Rayan “opened fire on the officers as they left the camp.”

Israeli sources noted that “during the activity, a motorbike with two terrorists arrived, when one of the terrorists descended the motorbike andֵֵ fired with a handgun at the Israeli undercover forces, who neutralized him” (emphasis added). A March 2022 article in Haaretz claims that the police issued a second statement, saying that Palestinian news outlets confirmed that Rayan was killed during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. NGO Monitor was unable to confirm this statement.

Following his death, Fatah released an official poster eulogizing Rayan and referring to him as “its hero martyr son.” Multiple pictures of Rayan carrying military grade weapons were distributed on social media after his death.

NGO Reactions

DCI-P claimed, “As Israeli forces withdrew from the camp in a convoy of at least seven armored military vehicles, Nader and another boy passed the military convoy on a motorcycle. … An eyewitness told DCIP that the motorcycle broke down, forcing Nader and the other child to get off the motorcycle. They then attempted to flee the area on foot. … An Israeli soldier fired at least three bullets at Nader and the other boy from inside his armored vehicle.”

PCHR reported, “Several Israeli backup patrols moved into the [Balata refugee] camp, while ‘Yamam Unit’ arrested Arafat and slowly withdrew towards Huwara military checkpoint. During their withdrawal, Palestinian young men chased the patrols and threw stones at them, while IOF opened fire at the Palestinians … A motorcycle carrying two children was passing behind the Israeli patrols. … IOF opened fire at the motorcycle, so the two children got off and ran … while IOF continued to open fire at them. After IOF’s withdrawal, a body (sic) of Nader Hitham Fathi Rayan (16) was found.”

Yamen Nafiz Jaffal (16)

According to the IDF, on March 6, 2022, 16-year-old Yamen Jaffal was killed by Israeli forces in the village of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, when he lobbed firebombs at a military observation post. Following his death, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) terror group and its youth group, the Palestinian Democratic Youth Union (PDYU), published official statements mourning Jaffal as its “comrade martyr.”

Following his death, several photos highlighting his participation in a DFLP event were shared on social media.

On multiple occasions, Jaffal used his social media accounts to voice his support for the DFLP and violent activities. For example, on February 25, 2022, Jaffal shared a video of IDF forces and wrote, “There is no shame that the occupation enters #AbuDis but there is shame that they exit it intact as they entered.”

On February 19, 2022, Jaffal shared official DFLP content and wrote about the anniversary of the DFLP’s establishment. He called the group’s legacy, “A history that rejuvenates each year in the soul and blood of every fighter that wishes for freedom, independence and social justice. … May the revolution continue until the occupation’s vanquish. What was taken by force will be returned only by force. … Long live our red Front, the DF.”

NGO Reporting

In its report on the incident, DCI-P noted, “An Israeli soldier shot and killed 15-year-old Yamen Nafez Mahmoud Khanafseh … near an Israeli military base in Abu Dis. … ‘Israeli forces routinely unlawfully kill Palestinian children with impunity, using excessive force and unjustified intentional lethal force,’ said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. … There were no confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents at the time that Yamen was shot, according to information gathered by DCIP. … An Israeli military statement alleged that Yamen was throwing Molotov cocktails at the time he was shot, Haaretz reported.”

DCI-P failed to mention Jaffal’s apparent affiliation with the DFLP and denied reports of the violent clashes that took place.

PCHR reported, “IOF moved into Abu Dis village, east of occupied East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, a group of Palestinian young men gathered near an IOF’s military camp and threw stones and Molotov Cocktails at it. IOF then heavily fired live and rubber bullets and teargas canisters at the stone-throwers. At around 20:45, IOF opened fire at two Palestinian children in the area, wounding Yamen Nafiz Jaffal (16).” PCHR failed to note Jaffal’s apparent affiliation with the DFLP.

Mohammad Rezq Shehadeh Salah (14)

According to the IDF, 14-year-old Mohammed Salah was killed on February 22, 2022 by Israeli forces while he and two others threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli motorists near Bethlehem.

Following Salah’s death, the PFLP referred to Salah as “its comrade martyr” and “its comrade son,” adding that “the blood of the martyr that watered the earth of Palestine while defending its Arabness and the honor of its people will not be in vain.”

The terrorist organization also held a memorial event for him.

The PFLP published several official posters of Salah, calling him “its young comrade martyr.”

NGO Reporting

DCI-P asserted that “Israeli forces routinely unlawfully kill Palestinian children with impunity, using excessive force and unjustified intentional lethal force,” adding, “investigations and evidence collected by DCIP regularly suggest that Israeli forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that may amount to extrajudicial or willful killings.”

The NGO made no mention of Salah’s PFLP affiliation.

PCHR reported, “The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian child in al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem, after excessively and deliberately shooting at him, claiming that the child threw stones and Molotov Cocktails at settlers’ vehicles.” PCHR claimed that “these crimes are done without justification” and made no mention of Salah’s PFLP affiliation.

Mohammed Abu Salah (17)

On February 14, 2022, Palestinians violently clashed with Israeli forces in the village of Silat al-Harithiya, opening fire on IDF personnel and lobbing stones, Molotov cocktails and other improvised explosive devices at them. Seventeen-year-old Fatah member Mohammed Abu Salah was killed by the IDF while participating in these clashes.

Following his death, Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades—a U.S.-designated terrorist organization—published an official eulogy poster of Abu Salah, referring to him as “its son, the martyr hero,” who “ascended [to the heavens] … while defending our Arab Palestinian people and land.”

NGO Reporting

DCI-P stated, “After Israeli forces entered the village, an armed Palestinian man shot at the Israeli military vehicles and managed to flee. … After confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters had abated, Mohammad and his 17-year-old cousin arrived at the scene, when Israeli forces suddenly and without warning began firing live ammunition at protesters who began to flee. … An Israeli sniper approximately 250 meters (820 feet) away shot Mohammad. … Mohammad was not participating in any clashes at the time he was shot, an eyewitness told DCIP.”

DCI-P failed to mention Abu Salah’s apparent affiliation with the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades and denied that he was participating in the violence.

On February 14, 2022, PCHR published a report, according to which, “IOF … surrounded a house belonging to prisoner Mahmoud Ghaleb Jaradat. … A number of young men gathered around houses where the IOF were deployed around, started throwing stones at them. … IOF fired live and rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters to disperse the protestors. This resulted in the injury of 7 protesters, including 2 children; one of the children targeted was shot with a live bullet. … The child was identified later as Mohammed Akram ‘Ali Taher Abu Salah (17).” PCHR also neglected to mention Abu Salah’s apparent affiliation with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Mohammed Nidal Younis Mousa (16)

On December 6, 2021, 16 year-old Mohammed Mousa rammed a car into Israeli guards stationed at the Te’enim checkpoint near Tulkarm, seriously injuring one. Mousa was shot dead by Israeli forces responding to the attack.

NGO Reporting

On December 6, 2021, DCI-P reported that Mousa “allegedly committed a car-ramming attack at an Israeli military checkpoint.” DCI-P argued, “If a child is suspected of committing a criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international standards and afforded due process of law,” ignoring the fluid and unpredictable nature of such attacks and the immediate need of forces on the ground to defend themselves and bystanders.

Omar Ibrahim Abu Asab (16)

On November 17, 2021, 16-year-old Omar Abu Asab stabbed two Israeli B0rder Police officers in Jerusalem. Following the attack, Hamas referred to Abu Asab as “its hero martyr son … a unique example of fearlessness and bravery” who died after he committed a “heroic stabbing operation in occupied Jerusalem.”

NGO Reporting

In response to the incident, DCI-P claimed, “Where individuals allegedly carry out a violent criminal act, they should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law” (emphasis added).

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