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A child suicide bomber is a suicide bomber under the age of 18.
Children have been exploited as suicide bombers have been used by Palestinian militant and terrorist organizations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The youngest Palestinian suicide bomber was 16 year old Issa Bdeir, a high school student from the village of Al Doha, who shocked his friends and family when he blew himself up in a park in Rishon LeZion, killing a teenage boy and an elderly man.
However, while there have been at least nine documented suicide attacks involving minors between October 2000 and March 2004 and an Israeli military report on 229 cases of minors involved in militant activity, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (http://www.child-soldiers.org/), in its 2004 Global Report on the Use of Child Soldiers (http://www.child-soldiers.org/resources/global-reports) reported that "there was no evidence of systematic recruitment of children by Palestinian armed groups"  (http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=945), also noting that this remains a small fraction of the problem in other conflict zones such as Africa, where there are an estimated 20,000 children involved in active combat roles in Sudan alone. Human Rights Watch, in its report entitled "Child Soldier Use", also reported that "there was no evidence that the Palestinian Authority (PA) recruited or used child soldiers."  (http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/childsoldiers0104/9.htm)
In the al-Aqsa intifada, Palestinian militant groups have exploited children as "messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians"  (http://www.child_soldiers.org/document-get.php?id=945). Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have all been implicated in involving children in this way  (http://www.child_soldiers.org/document-get.php?id=945), though the issue was only brought to world attention after the widely televised incident when the mentally handicapped Palestinian teenager Hussam Abdo was disarmed in front of television cameras  (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,,1179562,00.html)  (http://www.intelligence.org.il/sp/4_04/images/rd.wmv). Some commentators have claimed that the Palestinian Authority, religious clerics, and the Palestinian education system incite violence by glorifying suicide bombing and violence through the concepts of "Shuhada" (martyrs or witnesses in Arabic) and "Jihad".  (http://www.pmw.org.il/tv%20part1.html) However, a special report commissioned by the US Department of State and conducted by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information found that "The overall orientation of the [Palestinian] curriculum is peaceful despite the harsh and violent realities on the ground. It does not openly incite against Israel and the Jews. It does not openly incite hatred and violence. Religious and political tolerance is emphasized in a good number of textbooks and in multiple contexts.” "  (http://www.un.org/unrwa/allegations). Other commentators have called suicide bombers "an explosion of decades of despair", claiming that they are more likely motivated by "living under military siege, and because so many of their fellow Palestinians have been maimed and killed" than Islamic fanatacism and "dreaming of being rewarded with 72 virgins in Paradise".
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claims that many children are paid by militant groups such as Hamas or the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades to throw pipe bombs at Israeli soldiers, often resulting in severe injuries and handicaps to the children through premature detonation. Between September 2000 and March 2004, "Palestinian non-governmental groups documented the deaths of 30 children actively involved in organized military action... Most of the deaths occurred as a result of accidents with explosives or during armed clashes with Israeli troops"  (http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=945). According to Israeli security forces, there have been 229 cases of minors involved in militant activity.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Azzaman (June 20, 2002), Mahmoud Abbas – who would later serve as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority for four months – condemned the practice, saying that he opposed "that little children go to die", stating that "[i]t is a horrible thing. At least 40 children in Rafah became cripples after their hands were blown off by pipe bombs. They received 5 Shekels [slightly over $1] to throw them" (Quoted in the Jordanian newspaper Alrai)  (http://www.idf.il/hebrew/announcements/2002/june/mazen.stm)  (http://honestreporting.com/graphics/abumazen.gif). Some Palestinians and commentators have claimed that the role that money plays in this is highly doubtful given the large amount of stone throwing at tanks by children on their own.
Incidents since September 2000 and prior to 2004
On April 24, 2002, three children aged 12, 13 and 14 were killed while attempting to infilitate Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip. The three children - Ismail Abu Nada (12), Anwar Ill Azi Mustafa Hamarna (13) and Yosef Basem Yosef Zakut (14) - were activists of the local Islamic youth movement of the Sheikh Raduan neighbourhood in Gaza. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israeli intelligence sources attributed it to Hamas. Hamas, however, denied the charge and condemned the usage of children in military operations, and asked them to remember that their lives are precious, and should not be sacrificed.  (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1948502.stm)
The data collected by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) regarding the involvement of Palestinian children in suicide bombings is grim. According to this data:
- Since the beginning of violence in the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000, 29 suicide attacks have been carried out by youth under the age of 18.
- Since May 2001, 22 shootings attacks and attacks using explosive devices were carried out by youth under the age of 18.
- Since the beginning of 2001, more than 40 youths under the age of 18 were involved in attempted suicide bombings that were thwarted (of them, three during 2004).  (http://www.idf.il/newsite/english/031604-1.stm)
Some Palestinian and international human rights groups, however, point out omissions in the IDF's data. In particular, since the beginning of the conflict:
- The IDF has killed 652 Palestinian children during the intifada, which began in September 2000.
- Defence for Children International's Palestine Section (DCI/PS) reports that an estimated 10 000 children were wounded during the intifada.
- Over 2 000 children had been arrested by June 2003.
- Children in IDF custody have reported abuse (beatings, sleep deprivation, and humiliation such as being forced to strip naked, derogatory language, being forced to perform a variety of demeaning actions, etc''.) and the same level of treatment as adult Palestinians; allegations that have been documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Incidents in 2004
On March 24, 2004, one week after capturing a bomb in the bag of 12-year-old Abdullah Quran (http://www.crimelibrary.com/terrorists_spies/terrorists/palestinians/)  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4892818-103681,00.html), possibly placed without his knowledge (some Palestinians have claimed the explosives were planted by Israelis), Hussam Abdo, a 16_year old Palestinian who initially claimed he was 14 was captured in a checkpoint near Nablus wearing an explosive belt. The young boy was paid by the Tanzim militia to detonate himself onto the checkpoint. IDF soldiers, manning the checkpoint, were suspicious of him and told him to stay away from people. Later, an EOD team arrived and by using a police-sapper robot, removed the explosive belt from him.  (http://www1.idf.il/SIP_STORAGE/DOVER/files///1//28131.jpg) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1170980,00.html). These incidents were both widely condemned in the Palestinian press, and in the Arab world in general.
The latest incidents have caused a controversy in the Palestinian society, with most expressing their dismay at the phenomenon. Although all major Palestinian groups have "publicly disavowed the use of children in military operations ... those stated policies have not always been implemented". However, the Israeli government still claims that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is inciting children to participate in militant operations and attacks, alleging that PA television broadcasts call on children to seek death, and that the PA condones posters of suicide bombers in the classrooms.  (http://www.pmw.org.il/specrep-32.html)
Human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, strongly condemned the act of using children to commit attacks.
- "Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians by Palestinian armed groups as crimes against humanity. Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is an abomination. We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce these practices."
- "Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs's Brigades, must put an immediate end to the use or involvement of any kind of children in armed activity."  (http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE150352004)
Despite the harsh condemnation and internal controversy, Palestinian militant groups such as Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Islamic Jihad, have recently used children as militants and suicide bombers. On March 31, 2004, Raed Khuweir blamed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for attempting to recruit his younger brother, aged 15, to commit a suicide attack. He said:
- "They crushed my brother. These are dubious people who tarnish the reputation of the resistance by making us look like barbarians who exploit children."
Khuweir claimed that his younger brother was "brainwashed" by an Islamic Jihad cleric and "call[ed] on the Palestinian Authority to investigate this affair and on Islamic Jihad to reveal who these people are that deceive children, so that [it would be known] they really belong to the group"  (http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,9140509%255E1702,00.html). Serveral weeks after the incident, the IDF arrested Fatah activists from Nablus, who believed to be behind other children suicide bombings.
On May 29, 2004, The New York Times reported Israeli allegations that the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades were using children to recruit classmates as suicide bombers. One child, Nasser Awartani, 15 of Nablus allegedly recruited four of his classmates, one of whom the Shin Bet report on Awartani claimed was Hussam Abdo  (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/30/international/middleeast/30teen.html).
On June 16, 2004, two girls - aged 14 and 15 were arrest by the IDF for plotting a suicide bombing.  (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/439981.html) According to IDF statement, the two minors were recurited by Tanzim (Fatah's armed wing) activists, guided by Hizbullah.  (http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=32081.EN) On July 3, the Israeli security forces have thwarted a suicide bombing which should have been carried by a 16-years-old Muataz Takhsin Karini. Karini and two of his operators were arrested, while a 12 kg explosive belt was detonated safely by Israeli EOD crew.  (http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=446940&contrassID=2&subContrassID=21&sbSubContrassID=0) On June 5, IDF forces detonated two explosive belts concealed in schoolbags.  (http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=9415) (http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//566314) On July 14 the Shin Bet arrested in Kfar Maskha a suicide bomber. The bomber was identified as 17-year-old Ahmed Bushkar from Nablus.  (http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//571353)
On August 7, 2004, a 15 year-old Palestinian was killed while trying to launch an anti-tank missile on Rafiah Yam settlement in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Defence Forces returned fire and hit the missile, and he was apparently was killed by the explosion. Later that day, in an attempt to sabotage the Israeli Gaza Strip Barrier, one Palestinian was killed and a 16-year-old teen was arrested. An IED explosive charge was found nearby.  (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2959268,00.html)
On September 23, 2004, a day before Yom Kippur, the Shin Bet and the Israeli police captured a 15-year-old suicide bomber and a 7 kg explosive belt in Dir-Hana village in the Western Galilee. The 15-year-old was a part of joint terrorist cell of Tanzim and Islamic Jihad from Yamon village near Jenin. The four were Palestinians who worked illegally in Israel. The 15-year-old teenager was paid 1000 Shekels in order to blow himself up in Afula.  (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/481217.html) ,  (http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/481214.html)
According to a Shabak report published on September 26, 2004 about 292 Palestinian minors were involved in terrorism.  (http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=482489&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0),(DOC, Hebrew) (http://my.ynet.co.il/pic/news/final/final.doc)
On the fourth quarter of 2004, Nablus is still continue to be the center for the recruitment of child suicide bombers:. On September 27, 2004, a 15-year-old suspected suicide bomber was arrested in Nablus.  (http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//604999). On October 28, Ayub Maaruf, a 16_years old Fatah suicide bomber, was arrested near Nablus along with his operator.  (http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/806/648.html)
On November 1, 16-year-old Aamer Alfar blew himself in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, killing 3 Israelis, in a suicide bombing that was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Alfar's mother and father condemned what they saw as the exploitation of their son:
- "God will curse those who recruited Amar. I had heard the stories about recruiting children in Nablus but I didn't think they were true... Yes, it is difficult here for everyone because of the occupation, and life in Nablus is intolerable, but children should not be exploited in this way."  (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/496569.html)
On November 4, a 15-year-old suicide bomber was arrested in Nablus.  (http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=11529)
Incidents in 2005
On February 3, Mahmoud Tabouq, a 15 or 16 year-old Palestinian, was arrested at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus carrying a bag containing an explosive belt, an improvised gun, and 20 bullets. The belt was detonated safely by a Magav bomb squad.(Haaretz) (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/535850.html) , (video) (http://www1.idf.il/dover/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=37529.EN)
Reports on child suicide bombers
Reports and allegations of incitement and indoctrination of violence
Reports and allegations of children used as human shields