The participation of Palestinian teens in acts of terrorism against Israel is not new. Palestinian terror organizations were training children as early as 1970. More recently, the phenomenon was witnessed in the First Lebanon War in 1982, when Israeli soldiers encountered Palestinian youth sent by the PLO to shoot RPG rockets at them. They later received the nickname “RPG children.” Their actions as combatants continued in the Second Intifada in 2004 and during the “knife intifada” in 2015.
In recent weeks, this spectacle has resurfaced in eastern Jerusalem. So far, three Palestinian youths have carried out attacks against Israelis. In one case,13-year-old Muhammad Aliwat carried out a shooting attack against Israeli civilians in Silwan. Security officials in Israel are very concerned about the renewal of this phenomenon, which may increase toward the month of Ramadan, which begins this year on March 22.
These attacks usually take place in the Old City or the Jewish neighborhoods adjacent to eastern Jerusalem against Israeli citizens and members of the security forces. The attackers have received the nickname in Arabic Ashbal al-Quds (boys of Jerusalem), and they have become the new heroes of the Palestinians’ struggle against Israel. The young generation sees Israel as an enemy that must be defeated through acts of terror and jihad.
While the Palestinians blame Israel for the phenomenon, its actual causes are:
1. Incitement by the Palestinian Authority and terrorist organizations against Israel and Jews on social networks, especially on Tik Tok and Instagram. In the security establishment, inciting videos on social networks are called “terror porn”—shocking images of Palestinian deaths in Jenin and Nablus, Israeli bombings in Gaza, Israeli citizens praying on the Temple Mount, and videos of Palestinian terrorists presented as heroes.
2. Incitement in the Palestinian education system.
Palestinian parents contribute to the incitement and instill in their children a shocking hatred of Israel and Jews. They do not guard their children against incitement. On the contrary, they encourage the culture of death in their children, celebrate the death of every child and teenager killed during an attack and declare him a “martyr.”
The religious leaders in eastern Jerusalem support this phenomenon, and the public leaders there, as well as P.A. officials, refrain from removing children from the circle of terror. For them, all means are acceptable to fight against Israel: the children are brainwashed with a broad and warped social consensus and religious legitimacy. They cross the barrier of fear with false promises of heaven.
Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israeli radio and television, is a senior Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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