ISIS’s Child Terrorists and Their Palestinian Precedents
Somehow, evil practiced against Israel doesn’t register.
“There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, decision, and steadiness on that belief.”
Those words, written in 1791 by Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, should be deeply internalized by anyone who wants to deal seriously with international affairs. In our present era of Islamic State and other Islamic terror groups, the phrase “all possible evil” seems to take on new meaning almost every day.
As in a chilling new video, first reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and reported on by Fox News here, that shows IS “cubs”—child warriors, in this case as young as ten—executing five Kurdish fighters.
The video features scenes of beheadings and other carnage before zeroing-in on the five boys and their victims. One of the boys, identified as Abu al-Baraa al-Tunisi, warns: “The war against you has not started yet and the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany, and neither humans nor Jinn devils will avail you. Prepare you coffins, dig your graves, and await a fate similar to that of these men.”
The boys then shout “Allah Akbar” and shoot the five kneeling, red-suited men in the backs of their heads.
Although this is not the first IS video to show executions by children, it is believed, Fox News notes, “to be the first showing a mass execution carried out by multiple children.”
But for all that IS is reaching new depths of “all possible evil,” it should not be forgotten that the pioneers of various modes of terrorism in our time were, and remain, the Palestinians. That includes the phenomenon of child terrorism.
As far back as the Second Intifada (2000-2005), at least nine suicide bombings were perpetrated by Palestinian minors. And the wave of stabbing, shooting, and vehicle-ramming attacks that began last September (and has lately abated) has included numerous cases of teenage terrorists and one case of an eleven-year-old terrorist.
These minors, unlike the IS “cubs,” were not explicitly delegated their tasks by adults. Yet they were responding to endemic incitement in the Palestinian Authority, and the sorts of acts they committed have been systematically glorified—up to the recent naming of a scouts’ leadership course after a terrorist who, with an accomplice, murdered a middle-aged man and two elderly men on a Jerusalem bus last October.
Gaza-based Hamas, of course—a direct ally of IS—is hardly to be outdone by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority when it comes to linking children and terrorism.
As The Tower reported, last month Hamas “opened three-week-long training camps in Gaza for over 50,000 elementary, middle, and high school students.” It was nothing new:
Hamas has long encouraged Palestinian children to see themselves as soldiers against Israel, often dressing them in military uniforms and teaching them how to shoot firearms. In May, Palestinian kindergarten students in the Gaza Strip wore military fatigues and brandished toy machine guns to simulate the capture of an Israeli soldier as part of a school play.
In June 2014…around one thousand students from ages 12 to 17 would line up each week in the Saraya neighborhood of Gaza City to receive [military] training…. More than 10,000 Palestinian teenagers graduated from such camps in 2015, after undergoing intensive military training using live ammunition, as well as hearing sermons from Hamas leaders praising armed attacks.
Apart from debates about efficacy, the fact that Western countries have been attacking IS in Iraq, Syria, and Libya at least indicates an awareness that the organization is evil and can only be fought.
Little such awareness, of course, has been evident when Israel has fought Hamas in the 2009, 2012, and 2014 Gaza wars. Hamas’s use of a human-shields strategy—involving the sacrifice of children as well as older civilians—has, instead of inspiring revulsion and understanding of Israel’s predicament, worked with great effect to turn blame and condemnation against Israel.
For Israel and its supporters, it is always an uphill struggle to establish that terror against Israel belongs to the same genus as terror that strikes other countries, showing the same heinous flouting of the most fundamental moral norms including distinctions between combatants and civilians and between adults and children.
That ISIS has taken child terrorism a step or two further than the Palestinian Authority or Hamas should not obscure the fact that Israel, too, has to confront “all possible evil.”