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Media Analyses





Coverage of Unwitting Palestinian Boy-Bomber


On March 15, Abdullah Quran, an 11-year-old boy who works as a porter at checkpoints for pocket change was approached by two adults who asked the sixth-grader to carry a bag for them. Abdullah was told the bag contained clothes and auto parts. But, in fact, the bag was carrying something much more deadly. The men gave the young boy a 10 kg explosive device connected to a remote controlled detonator. The bomb was supposed to be activated when Abdullah was stopped by Israeli soldiers. Fortunately, the device malfunctioned saving the boy's life and those targeted by the terrorists, according to Israeli officials. The willingness of Palestinian terrorists to use a young boy as an unwitting bomber illustrates the cynical use of children in the war against Israel. But, unlike many other cases involving youngsters, the unsuspecting child did not want to become a “martyr.”

Even B’Tselem, a group often unwilling to criticize Palestinians, issued a press release condemning those Palestinians for “using a child to transport explosives" which “is in and of itself a war crime.”

Young Abdullah is part of a disturbing trend of Palestinian children increasingly involved in terrorist attacks. According to the Jerusalem Post, “Since the outbreak of violence, terrorists have dispatched 29 suicide bombers younger than 18, officials said. Since 2001, more than 40 other minors who were involved in planning suicide bombings have been arrested by security forces. Since May 2001, 22 shootings and bombings were perpetrated by minors” (March 16).

Hashem Abu Hamdan, a leader of the Fatah terrorist group, denied involvement in the Quran incident, but admitted to the Associated Press that they sometimes use children to scout out Palestinian neighborhoods for Israeli military activity. He also told AP that “we don’t ask kids how old they are when they join the brigades...If he physically looks mature, and looks strong, and from a mental point of view he seems like he can handle things ... he could join the brigades” (“Detention of Palestinian boy draws attention to conscription of youths by militants,” March 16)

The participation of Palestinian children in terrorist attacks is a troubling trend which should be highlighted by the media. Yet, there were some media outlets which did not even cover this story. Some gave the incident the prominence it deserved, most notably the Boston Globe and MSNBC’s “Abrams Report,” but others buried the story at the bottom of the day’s article. Below is a summary of the story’s coverage. 
   
PRINT MEDIA

Featured the story:

The Boston Globe carried an outstanding piece by Charles Radin which ran on the front page of the paper (“Courier, 11, seen as pawn in Mideast Terror,” March 17). A copy of the article is below.

The Washington Times also featured the story on its front page (“Children used as pawns by terrorists,” March 17).

The New York Post did a story on it as well (“Terror’s NewWeapon: Humn Boy Bomb, 10; Fiends Make Boy a Human Bomb,” March 17).

Limited coverage:

The Los Angeles Times first mentioned the incident 16 paragraphs into a March 16 article, “Sharon May End Diplomatic Ties With Palestinians.” It is worth noting that, in contrast two days later, when the paper reported about Israeli soldiers battling terrorists and two teens were among the casualties, the LA Times emphasized their deaths (“Israeli Raid Kills 2 Teens in Gaza; Palestinians say the boys, both 15, were unarmed. The army says it will investigate”).

The New York Times first reported about Quran 18 paragraphs into its March 16 article (“New Talks Ruled Out By Sharon After Attack”).

No coverage:

Some major newspapers, such as the Washington Post and USA Today, did not even report on the incident. The Washington Post did, on the other hand, specify in a March 18 article that “two missile strikes by Israeli AH-64 Apache helicopters killed four Palestinians, including two boys age 12 and 15, in the Rafah refugee camp.”

TV COVERAGE

NBC, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC covered the story, while CBS and ABC did not.
 
MSNBC’s Dan Abrams (“The Abrams Report”) was the only one to criticize so-called human rights groups for their indifference to the incident. On his March 16 program, Abrams told his viewers that:

The 10-year-old Palestinian boy stopped at an Israeli checkpoint yesterday with a bomb in his backpack. A bomb discovered with nails and bolts designed to be set off by remote control. A bomb that would have killed both the boy and Israeli soldiers. Apparently the boy had been paid by Palestinian terrorists to bring the bag to the border, but had no idea what was inside. I ask where's the outrage? Why aren't human rights groups in the U.N. up in arms about the use of children by Palestinian terrorists?

Usually, when children are mistreated, there's a particular level of outrage, so why no focus on the sacrifice of children by some Palestinian terror groups? Just condemning suicide bombings in general isn't enough. We asked Alistair Hodgett from international–sorry–from Amnesty International about it. His response? Since there have been no previous incidents where children have been involved, there's been no need for condemnation. Really? I guess he didn't hear about the three Palestinian boys arrested earlier this month, ages 12, 13, and 15 caught trying to sneak into Israel with homemade guns. A note claimed two of them were affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the other with Islamic Jihad that said–quote–"If we die, if we become martyrs, don't feel sorry for us. Just have a massive protest and distribute sweets to everyone.”

No previous incidents? I guess Mr. Hodgett didn't know that in 2002, a 15-year-old and two 13-year-olds from a camp known as a Hamas stronghold were killed as they tried to infiltrate an Israeli settlement with explosives and knives. They too had written farewell letters to their families. I guess he didn't hear about the 16-year-old Palestinian girl in 2002 who detonated a bomb in a Jerusalem supermarket killing two, injuring 22. I guess he didn't know that children as young as 8 are taught the value and nobility of blowing yourself up.

And remember this picture allegedly found at the home of a wanted terrorist? I guess Mr. Hodgett didn't know that families get cash if their children die as–quote–"martyrs" and that some children have been paid for throwing pipe bombs. These are just examples. Human Rights Watch tells us they too have never felt it necessary to specifically condemn the Palestinians for allowing children to be used as weapons. Is it that these groups don't pay attention to the news or is it something far worse? An unwillingness to criticize the Palestinians for something that could lead many in the world to come down hard on their terror tactics.


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