Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Item 7



Claim 11: Israel arbitrarily detains Palestinian children


Oman, 41st Session

“My delegation condemns all violations committed against the Palestinians and expresses its concern about the detention of children and all illegal practices committed against them…”

South Africa, 40th Session

“It is a matter of concern to us that mass arbitrary arrests, including of women and children, by Israeli forces continue…”

Palestine, 42nd Session

“Israeli occupying forces perpetrate all forms of violations including the arbitrary detention of children…”

Our Response

UN Watch

It is true that Israel arrests Palestinian minors who commit stabbings, throw Molotov cocktails or engage in other violence or terrorist activity, in many cases under the direction of Hamas or other groups. Even though many are arrested in an armed conflict situation, the rate of Israel’s arrest of Palestinian minors is less than the rate of minors arrested in other democracies in regular situations, for example 5 times lower than England and Wales.[1] Moreover, according to data from the Israel Prison Service, the average monthly number of Palestinian minors in Israeli detention has steadily declined from 2016 to 2019. This is attributable to a decrease in participation of Palestinian minors in terror activity.

There is no evidence that IDF arrests of Palestinian minors is “arbitrary.” Regrettably, Palestinian minors often take part in terrorist activity and have carried out violent terrorist attacks, including deadly terrorist attacks.  For example:

  • October 2015: two teenage Palestinian boys seriously wounded two Israelis, including a 13-year-old boy riding his bicycle, in stabbing attack in Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem.[2]
  • January 2016: 16-year-old Palestinian Morad Bader Abdullah Adais stabbed to death Israeli mother-of-six Dafna Meir at her home.[3]
  • January 2016: 17-year-old Palestinian Hussein Muhammad Abu Ghosh with an accomplice stabbed to death 23-year-old Shlomit Krigman.[4]
  • June 2016: 17-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Taraireh stabbed to death 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel as she slept.[5]
  • August 2019: Palestinian teens stabbed Israeli police officer near the entrance to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.[6]
  • February 2020: 17-year-old Palestinian teen threw Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers.[7]

These are not isolated examples. They reflect the pervasive culture of hatred and violence inculcated in Palestinian youth from a very early age. See critique of Palestinian Authority by Israeli and American security experts.[8] Through the education system and the media, Palestinian children are taught that Israel has no right to exist because Israel-proper really belongs to Palestine.[9] These children are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of famous terrorists, who are honored and glorified. Israel, Israelis, and Jews are routinely demonized.[10]

UN stakeholders must address Palestinian education to hate

Instead of condemning Israel for legitimately arresting Palestinian children committing acts of terrorism, UN stakeholders ought to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable for its state-sanctioned incitement of children to violence and martyrdom, which the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination found “fuels hatred and may incite violence, particularly hate speech against Israelis, which at times also fuels antisemitism.”[11] This violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international treaties.[12]

Indeed, the Palestinian educational curriculum is known to be notoriously anti-peace. Recent studies by IMPACT-se, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education, have found that Palestinian textbooks, in breach of UNESCO standards for peace and tolerance, radicalize Palestinian children by severely demonizing Israel, glorifying martyrdom, teaching that Palestinians will “return” to and defeat Israel. Western governments, including the EU, UK, and US have denounced this teaching of hate to children.[13] On May 14, 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing concern that “problematic material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed,” and over the PA’s “continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence in school textbooks.”[14]

Incitement of Palestinian children to violence is also pervasive in statements by Palestinian officials and in the media. For example, Palestinian officials, including school officials, regularly reject Israel’s right to exist and praise child terrorists as “martyrs.”[15] Both Palestinian Authority and Hamas television routinely screen content for children glorifying martyrdom and praising children for endorsing violence.[16] For example, in a December 2019 PA TV program, the host demonized Israelis as child killers while children recited a poem exalting martyrdom: “The blood of the Martyrs flows in my veins… My sword is drawn and won’t return to the sheath… the Dark-Eyed [Virgins] yearn for me…”[17]

Children are further propelled to violence by the common Palestinian practices of turning terrorists into role models through the naming of schools, summer camps and youth centers after terrorists, and exploiting youth activities to train children in terrorism. For example, in the summer of 2019, a Hamas summer camp provided children with terrorist training, while a Palestinian Authority summer camp had children chanting praise for famous terrorists such as Abu Iyad, who masterminded the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.[18]

Having been indoctrinated from an early age to hate Israel and aspire to martyrdom, it should not be surprising that Palestinian children engage in terrorist violence, and that they are then arrested for such criminal activity. Even 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who was embraced in a massive social media campaign by Amnesty International, endorsed blood, violence and martyrdom after being released from Israeli prison in 2018, when she pledged “to continue on the path of the martyrs, so that their blood will not have been shed in vain,” adding “we shall always continue on their path… even sacrificing my life, for the sake of liberating Palestine.”[19]

Finally, if UN stakeholders are genuinely concerned about arbitrary arrest in the Palestinian territories, they ought to address the Palestinians’ own record with regard to arbitrary arrest of children. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been known to arrest children without any basis and to subject them to harsh treatment, including torture, in violation of international law. For example, in August 2018, Hamas arrested and tortured a 13-year-old boy who got into a fight with the son of a Hamas military leader. Similarly, in September 2015, the PA police beat and detained a 14-year-old boy who got into a fight with other children outside a wedding party.[20]

For more information on Palestinian Authority and Hamas violations against children, see UN Watch’s 2019 submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.[21]

[1] No Way to Represent a Child: Defense for Children International Palestine’s Distortions of the Israeli Justice System, NGO Monitor (September 2017),

[2] Daniel K. Eisenbud, Two teens, 13 and 15, carry out Pisgat Ze’ev terror attack, critically hurt 13-year-old, Jerusalem Post (October 12, 2015),

[3] Palestinian teen convicted in killing of Dafna Meir, Times of Israel (May 3, 2016),

[4] The stabbing attack in Beit Horon showed an increase in relative complexity, daring and premeditation, Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (January 27, 2016),

[5] Elisha Ben-Kimon, Elior Levy, Teenage girl killed, man hurt in Kiryat Arba stabbing attack, Ynet (June 30, 2016),,7340,L-4822376,00.html.

[6] Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, Hamas: Murder Israeli policeman who shot 17-year-old Palestinian stabber, Jerusalem Post (August 19, 2019),

[7] Judah Ari Gross and Jacob Magid, Palestinian teen shot dead as he threw firebomb at troops – army, Times of Israel (February 5, 2020),

[8] Yosef Kupperwasser and Sander Gerber, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority Hurts Everybody, Tablet (February 9, 2020),

[9] Written Submission of United Nations Watch to the 83rd Session and Pre-Sessional Working Group of the Committee on the Rights of the Child for its review of State of Palestine, pp. 5-14, UN Watch (March 1, 2019),

[10] See studies of Palestinian curriculum by IMPACT-se which analyzes education for compliance with the UNESCO standards of peace and tolerance, available at; European Parliament passes resolutions condemning Palestinian failure to stop hate in school textbooks, EU Reporter (May 18, 2020), (discussing EU Parliament resolutions condemning PA for teaching hate and violence in textbooks).

[11] Concluding observations on the combined initial and second periodic reports of the State of Palestine, Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Doc. CERD/C/PSE/CO/1-2 (August 29, 2019),

[12] See, e.g., UN Watch written statement to the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council on Palestinian Violations of Child Rights, UN Doc. A/HRC/44/NGO/132 (July 17, 2020),

[13] Marcus Sheff, Doubling down on the PA’s curriculum deception, Times of Israel (February 15, 2019),

[14] Raphael Ahren and TOI Staff, EU parliament passes resolution condemning hate speech in Palestinian textbooks, Times of Israel (May 15, 2020),

[15] Palestinian education official, Palestinian Media Watch (December 27, 2017),; PA Directorate of Education representative at event at school commemorating terrorist who killed 3, Palestinian Media Watch (April 24, 2016),

[16] Children & Education: Violence and Martyrdom for Kids, Palestinian Media Watch (last visited January 17, 2021),

[17] “The Dark-Eyed [Virgins] yearn for me”- Martyrdom-death promoted to kids on PA TV children’s program, Palestinian Media Watch (December 2, 2019),

[18] COGAT: Hamas summer camp trains kids to ‘commit acts of terror,’ Jerusalem Post (June 11, 2020),

[19] Palestinian teen icon Tamimi urges more assaults on Israeli troops, Times of Israel (October 25, 2018),

[20] Hamas fighters torture 13-year Adham, because he hit son of Hamas military leader, Palestinian Media Watch (August 29, 2018),; Child endures beating by a Palestinian police officer in Jericho, DCI-Palestine (September 10, 2015),

[21] Written Submission of United Nations Watch to the 83rd Session and Pre-Sessional Working Group of the Committee on the Rights of the Child for its review of State of Palestine, pp. 5-14, UN Watch (March 1, 2019),

UN Watch