Palestinian Children Die as Human Shields for Adult Terrorist Leaders

July 31, 2002

by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty

In Saturday’s edition of Arab News, published in Saudi Arabia, Tariq A. Al-Maeena asked in an editorial, “Do the Americans really know of all that is going on beyond their borders? …Did they hear about the latest missile attack by the Israelis in Gaza? Did they know that it was targeted against a heavily civilian populated area, and that it left 16 people dead, most of whom were children?”

Al-Maeena went on to castigate we Americans and our government for somehow failing to halt Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism: “The US government speaks highly and vocally of human rights. But when it comes to actually exercising these principles, I suspect they appear to be very selective. A holocaust is being committed against a people today, and yet they choose to mutely look the other way. Yes, a holocaust! One that is being relentlessly engineered by Mr. Sharon and aided by the reticence of the US government!”

Al-Maeena is talking about the people killed when Israel dropped a bomb on an apartment building that killed Salah Shehadeh, commander of the Izzadine al-Qassam. The Hamas military wing has been responsible for hundreds of attacks against Israelis. He was also planning a "mega-terror" attack inside Israel, "perhaps the biggest Israel has ever seen, a truck with a ton of explosives that was intended to shock the people of Israel and cause hundreds, hundreds of dead," Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said.

At least eight previous attempts to put Shehadeh out of commission had been called off after the Israelis learned that civilians were with him. In fact, six days before a "plane was in the air" with the bomb when Israel discovered that one of Shehadeh’s seven daughters was with him, and the strike was called off, Ben-Eliezer told the Jerusalem Post.

In spite of those efforts, the bomb killed not only Shehadeh, but his 14-year-old daughter, his wife, a bodyguard and 11 other people, seven of them children in adjoining buildings.

Before the bodies could be buried, Nasser al-Kidwa Palestinian Envoy to the United Nations had written a letter to the president of the UN Security Council stating: “The Israeli assault represents the first blatant war crime committed by the Israeli occupying forces since the entry into force this month of the ICC. …“This action definitely falls within the jurisdiction of the court
and, as such, measures to bring the perpetrators to justice should be taken.”

If the Israeli action that killed a terrorist planning a major assault on Israeli civilians is a war-crime, what, pray tell, was the Palestinian action by Iz A-Din Al-Masri, a member of Hamas, on August 9, 2001 when he carried a bomb into the Sbarro-Pizzeria in the center of Jerusalem and detonated it, killing 15 people, including seven children, and injuring 130 other civilians? What was the action of Shadi Tubasi, another member of Hamas, when he walked into the Matza restaurant in Haifa, detonated his explosive belt, killing 15 people and injuring 40?

Obviously, it must also be a war crime. So, why are the war crimes of the Palestinians ignored by the Arab world? Why is it they think killing Israeli children leads a Palestinian to heaven, whereas accidentally killing Arab children leads to the International Criminal Court?

Perhaps even more pertinent is the fact that Shehadeh, who certainly knew the Israelis were out to get him, kept himself surrounded by children - his own children at that. Any man considered worthy to be called a man, knowing that his life was in danger, would make sure his wife and children were out of danger. During World War II, many English parents sent their children to America to protect them from Nazi bombs.

However, it is obvious that a cowardly Shehadeh made sure children were in the line of fire if the Israelis started shooting at him. We see a pattern here among the Palestinians. Children are mere cannon fodder, useful mostly as human shields to protect terrorist leaders.

Should the Israelis have allowed Shehadeh to continue his plan to detonate his one ton bomb in downtown Jerusalem, causing hundreds of deaths, including children, rather than take a risk of hurting some of Shehadeh’s child shields?

Somehow, I don’t think so.


Mary Mostert was writing professionally on political issues as a teen-ager in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s. In the 1960s, she wrote a weekly column for the Rochester Times Union, a Gannett paper and was one of 52 American women who attended the 17 Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to ban testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. She was a licensed building contractor for 29 years, as she raised her six children. She served an 18 month mission as Public Affairs Director for the Africa Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990-91. In the 1990s she wrote a book, Coming Home, Families Can Stop the Unraveling of America, edited the Reagan Monthly Monitor and talk show host Michael Reagan’s Information Interchange for seven years. She now operates the website, Banner of Liberty.

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