Last week the well-known organization Amnesty International
published a report entitled "Killing the Future: Children in
the Line of Fire." Dealing with such a sensitive subject, the
report drew a lot of attention.
The report tried to be "even-handed" by including criticism
of both Israel and the Palestinians for killing children.
While it is a fact that children have been killed by both
sides, the report does not note the context.
The IDF, which killed most of the Palestinian children,
issued a detailed response, pointing out that its activities
are conducted under strict limits and controls that conform
to international law and moral standards, and never target
non-combatants. Palestinian terror activity, on the other
hand, does target noncombatants and is conducted from bases
within civilian areas that make them responsible for innocent
casualties, according to international law.
The IDF response is as follows:
For the past two years ,the IDF has been engaged in difficult
and intensive fighting against Palestinian terrorist
factions. During this period of fighting, which was imposed
upon the State of Israel and the IDF, Palestinian terrorist
factions perpetrated over 14,500 terror attacks, claiming the
lives of 624 Israelis.
All IDF operations adhere to international humanitarian law,
in strict compliance with the highest moral and legal
standards. In glaring contrast, Palestinian terrorist
factions defy all norms, be they moral or legal, deliberately
attacking civilians only because they are Israeli, as
described at length in the report. Amnesty International has
labeled the Palestinian suicide attacks as crimes against
As part of its adherence to the rules of the conduct of war,
the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid harming civilians,
especially children. This concern is an integral part of
soldier training, of the regulations governing when to open
fire, of orders issued by commanders, of operational plans,
and of the message conveyed by the highest-ranking
Regrettably, some civilians, including children, have been
injured during the fighting against the Palestinian terrorist
groups. In no case were these injuries intentional. Those
hurt were either individuals involved in Palestinian
terrorist activity, or civilians who were unintentionally
hurt when they entered a live-fire zone.
The Palestinian terrorists are solely and unequivocally
responsible for the injuries caused to Palestinian children.
Since the beginning of the conflict two years ago, the
Palestinian terrorist factions have cynically exploited
children in terrorist activity, in violation of international
law. Children are groomed and dispatched to carry out suicide
attacks in the centers of the Israeli civilian population;
positioned at the front lines of demonstrations to hide
snipers behind them; and used to plant explosives and deliver
weapons. Moreover, the terrorist factions have transformed
Palestinian civilian population centers into terrorist
One must keep in mind that the Palestinian society and
several international organizations have denounced the abuse
of children by Palestinian terrorist factions. It must be
mentioned that the Palestinians publicly acknowledged that
terrorist organizations paid Rafah Palestinian children 5 NIS
(roughly equal to $1 each) to thrust explosive charges
towards IDF soldiers. Forty of those children were injured
and became amputees (Al- Rai newspaper, 20 June 2002).
Unfortunately, the UN report does not mention this
particularly abominable Palestinian practice. Those who use
children to perpetrate terror attacks and those who use
houses where children reside to coordinate and perpetrate
attacks are responsible for these childrens' injuries.
Authors of the Amnesty report compare IDF operations in which
Palestinian children were killed to Palestinian terror
attacks in which Israeli children were killed. This
comparison is unjustified and baseless. Palestinian terror
attacks, especially suicide bombings, are designed to cause
the death of Israeli civilians, including children. This is
ruthless, unprecedented, inhuman terror. On the other hand,
IDF activity is conducted in accordance with the laws of war
and is not aimed at injuring civilians. Injuries are
occasionally sustained only because Palestinian terrorists
act from within Palestinian civilian population centers.
Hence, equating the two sides is baseless, and indicates a
fundamental lack of fairness amongst authors of the
The authors falsely claim the IDF does not investigate
incidents in which Palestinian children are injured, and
grants immunity to the soldiers involved. The fact is that
IDF commanders do investigate incidents in which Palestinian
civilians were injured. When suspicion of criminal
misbehavior by soldiers arises, the Military Police launches
an inquiry. Since September 2000, the beginning of operation
Ebb and Flow, over 220 inquiries have been launched by the
Military Police, including incidents in which Palestinian
minors were injured.
The claims that incidents are not investigated and soldiers
enjoy immunity are false. The fact that the IDF investigates
and establishes commissions of inquiry, even while in the
midst of intense fighting, is part of its identity as a
The IDF is dedicated to upholding "purity of arms" and
preserving human dignity, and regrets any injuries to
innocent children. The IDF emphasizes that the cynical use of
Palestinian children by Palestinian terrorist factions is the
main cause of their injuries.