Readers may recall that last February we pondered the question “Is a BBC documentary about Hamas’ child soldiers upcoming?” after a Tweet from Lyse Doucet, in which she noted that she was filming at a Hamas youth camp.
Whether or not this is part of the documentary on children in the Gaza Strip about which Doucet was interviewed by the Guardian last September is not clear. It will however be interesting to see whether the opportunity is used to inform BBC audiences about Hamas’ use of child soldiers – including during the most recent conflict – and whether or not it will be clarified that one of the UN conventions signed by the Palestinian Authority in April 2014 was the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, according to which no soldier should be under the age of 18.
Footage from that visit to a Hamas-organized youth camp did appear in Lyse Doucet’s recent film titled “Children of the Gaza War” – for less than one minute. Doucet’s commentary during that segment was as follows:
Some boys as young as Abdul Rahman [phonetic] take part in this first youth camp organized by Hamas’ military wing. It’s for men aged 15 to 21. Some are clearly younger and at the closing ceremony there’s younger still. For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this. Hamas says the camps keep boys off the street and teach values and martial arts for defense. But the young also learn about weapons and hatred: it’s what Hamas calls a culture of resistance.
Doucet’s categorization of the camp’s participants as “men” is obviously questionable, and the camp she attended was not the “first.” Seeing as the BBC is not averse to amplifying the Hamas narrative of ‘resistance,’ one might perhaps have expected that Doucet would have seized this rare opportunity to expand on a subject usually avoided by the BBC in order to inform audiences more comprehensively about what that “culture of resistance” really means.
For the third running year, thousands of Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip are receiving military training as part of Hamas’s summer camps.
The camps, which are being held under the banner “Vanguards of Liberation,” are aimed at preparing children as young as 15 for fighting against Israel. More than 25,000 children have joined this year’s Hamas camps, according to Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip. […]
As in the past two years, the summer camps are being held in bases belonging to Hamas’s armed wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam, throughout the Gaza Strip. The declared goal of the camps to is to “prepare a new generation of Palestinian youths spiritually, mentally and physically for the battle to liberate Palestine.” When Hamas talks about the “liberation of Palestine,” it is not referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip only, but to the whole of Israel. In other words, these Palestinian children are being educated and trained to prepare for joining the war aimed at destroying Israel. […]
Hamas’s religious education is aimed at teaching the children about Islam and its sharia laws. The children are being told that the whole of the land of Palestine (including Israel) is Muslim-owned land that can’t be given away to non-Muslims. They are also being taught that making peace with the “infidels” is prohibited under the teachings of Islam. […]
Another senior Hamas official, Khalil al-Hayah, told the child-soldiers that they were being trained for jihad against Israel.
“These camps are designed to prepare a generation that carries the Quran and rifle,” al-Hayah explained. “The camps show that Palestinians support the resistance and the project of liberation of Palestine. The goal is to liberate Palestine and the Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem].”
BBC audiences’ understanding of the Middle East would of course have been enhanced considerably had Lyse Doucet elected to devote more than 52 seconds of coverage to the topic of Hamas’ organised paramilitary and theological indoctrination of children.
Hamas’ mass indoctrination of children into a cult of violence is surely no less deserving of Western media headlines than a terrible terror attack in which a Palestinian child was killed.