It is time for UNICEF to stop playing politics and fulfill its mandate to protect every child.

By Nitsana Darshan-Leitner


Inciting and recruiting children to participate in acts of war and terror is reprehensible. It is also a severe violation of the most basic conventions of international law.

It is incumbent upon organizations like UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and the United Nations to stand up to terrorist and despotic regimes and take affirmative measures to stop this practice worldwide and not just in regions that are convenient or fit a particular agenda.

UNICEF: Report war crimes committed against Palestinian children

Hamas, an internationally recognized terror organization, repeatedly and systematically recruits, trains and deploys Palestinian children as combatants in its acts of war and terror.

Over 20,000 UNDERAGED children graduate from Hamas and other terror organization’s terror camps annually and UNICEF is doing nothing to prevent it.

Six months ago, Shurat HaDin presented UNICEF with a carefully documented report of Hamas’s crimes against children, but the United Nations’ organization has repeatedly sidestepped the evidence, neglecting to inform the public of the severity of Hamas’s actions.

The UN Secretary-General’s 2019 annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, which UNICEF heavily contributed to, verified that only *one* underaged boy had been recruited and used by Hamas.

This figure is absurd. It is infuriating that UNICEF is betraying its mandate by ignoring and failing to protect thousands of children.

Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations continually subvert the truth about their exploitation of children. They escape international condemnation and put the children who live under their jurisdiction under the immediate threat of danger and possible death. Hamas uses children as disposable frontline material to fuel their political agenda. When the death of a child makes headline news, Hamas cries victim, when in reality, they are using children as human shields.


Excerpt from the 2019 UN Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict

UNICEF has an obligation to provide an unbiased report on the condition of children in Gaza and to put an end to Hamas’s terror.

It is time to hold UNICEF accountable for their bias It is time to say #UNICEFDoYourJob.

Insidious encouragement of children to take part in “The Great March of Return”

“The children are going to a festival.” This is the repeated response that Shurat HaDin received from UNICEF describing the participation of children in “The Great March of Return.”

“The Great March of Return” is a series of violent riots disguised as a peaceful protest movement.

Organized by a committee, “The Great March of Return” was orchestrated to incite Israel by attempting to breach the security barrier along the Gazan border. Hamas and other terror organizations are *publicly* calling children to bring along knives, daggers and guns to support terrorism against Israel, putting them in immediate risk of violence and even death.

Hamas leadership instructed its operational leaders to engage in aggressive acts of violence including a policy of attacking and killing Israeli soldiers, kidnapping Israeli citizens and launching incendiary balloons and kites intended to cause wide-spread fires in Israeli territory.

The continued and systematic use of children for terror

State-run Palestinian and Gazan news outlets encourage women to bring their infants to the combat arena with a mix of preaching and pressure. On Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV channel an unnamed dignitary declared that,

“The Palestinian people shall liberate its land with blood, with martyrs, with women, and with children” and that “we shall come and take down that [border] fence with the fingernails of our children.”

This is an overt declaration that children are to be used in this act of war.

Hamas praises children who have died as ‘fighters,’ ‘heroes’ and ‘Shahids’ or ‘martyrs’ who were killed fulfilling a national duty, publicly displaying their bodies and glorifying them to encourage others to follow their fate.

When the deaths of these children are reported by UNICEF and other human rights organizations, they are described as not participating in acts of violence. In the case of 13-year-old Iz a-Din Musa Muhammad a-Samak who was documented as throwing stones with a slingshot. His mother said he wanted to go to the border to “return a martyr.”

She went on to say ” My message to all mothers is that we must sacrifice for the sake of the homeland. …I say to them, sacrifice your children, sacrifice yourselves, sacrifice everything for the sake of bringing back [liberating] the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Palestine.”

Hamas uses these children in their propaganda, glorifying their fate. During their funeral, many of these children had their bodies draped in the Hamas/al-Qassam Brigades or Fatah flag. This serves to reinforce the idea that their death supports a noble cause.

UNICEF is allowing Hamas’s war crimes to go unreported and unpunished

The recruitment of children into armed conflict is a serious violation of international law.  Hamas has indoctrinated and manipulated its children into believing that a call to violent action is a normative state. There is widespread preaching of jihad in schools and in informal educational activities. This is compounded by the preaching of martyrdom and jihad in mosques and through the media.

By including children in “The Great March of Return” Hamas is in contravention of Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which outlines the principle known as “the best interests of the child.” Exposing children to gunfire is never in their best interests.

UNICEF and other children’s rights advocacy organizations must report and condemn the actions of Hamas.

Without due diligence, these children are being groomed by terror organizations to become the next generation of terrorists.

It is incumbent on the international community to act in “the best interests of the child” and condemn Hamas and its partners for its consistent abuse of children and violations of their human rights.

Today, UNICEF is already started working on the next installment of their annual report.

This is our time to act.

Join us in demanding UNICEF to do their job.

Please follow us and share the hashtag: #UNICEFDoYourJob.

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