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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Phenomenon of Palestinian Teen Terrorists

Filed under: Palestinians, Terrorism

The Phenomenon of Palestinian Teen Terrorists
West Bank Kindergarten Posts TikTok Videos Showing Children Simulating Clashes with Israeli Military, Killing Soldiers, ‘Martyr’ Funeral (MEMRI)1
  • The phenomenon of Palestinian teenagers carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and members of Israel’s security forces in eastern Jerusalem has reappeared.
  • There is growing concern in Israel’s security establishment that teen recruitment receives broad social support and religious legitimacy, and will expand as the Palestinians move closer to Ramadan (March 22–April 20, 2023).

The participation of Palestinian teens in acts of terrorism against Israel is not new. Palestinian terror organizations were training children as early as 1970. More recently, the phenomenon was witnessed in the First Lebanon War in 1982 when IDF soldiers encountered Palestinian youth sent by the PLO to shoot RPG rockets at them. They later received the nickname “RPG children.” Their actions as combatants continued in the Second Intifada in 2004 and during the “knife intifada” in 2015.

Palestinian “Tiger Cubs” in a Jordanian refugee camp prior to Black September 1972. (Life Magazine)2

In recent weeks, this spectacle has resurfaced in eastern Jerusalem. So far, three Palestinian youths have carried out attacks against Israelis. In one case,13-year-old Muhammad Aliwat carried out a shooting attack at Israeli civilians in the village of Silwan in eastern Jerusalem.

Security officials in Israel are very concerned about the renewal of this phenomenon. These attacks usually take place in the Old City or the Jewish neighborhoods adjacent to eastern Jerusalem against Israeli citizens and members of the security forces.

The attackers have received the nickname in Arabic Ashbal al-Quds (boys of Jerusalem), and they have become the new heroes of the Palestinians’ struggle against Israel. The young generation sees Israel as an enemy that must be defeated through acts of terror and jihad.

Its new heroes are the terrorists Udai Altamimi, who murdered IDF soldier Noa Lazar at the Shuafat checkpoint; Khairy Alkam, who carried out the massacre in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in Jerusalem; Fadi Abu Shchiedem, a schoolteacher who murdered Israeli Eli Kay in the Old City; and Misbach Abu Sbeich, who murdered two Israelis in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in 2016 and whom the Palestinians call the “Lion of Jerusalem.”

According to security officials, the participation of Palestinian teens in terrorist activities may increase toward the month of Ramadan.

The Palestinians give different explanations for the terrorist phenomenon of the youth who joined the latest wave of violence, and they shift the blame to Israel. They blame Israel for provoking the Palestinians with its actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and for what they see as neglect by the Jerusalem Municipality of the eastern neighborhoods. They are outraged over the demolitions of illegal houses and the measures the IDF is taking against armed terrorist groups.

However, the actual reasons for the recent renewal of this phenomenon stem from the following:

  1. Wild incitement by the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist organizations against Israel and Jews on social networks, especially on Tik Tok and Instagram.

In the security establishment, inciting videos on social networks are called “terrorist porn” – shocking images of Palestinian deaths in Jenin and Nablus, Israeli bombings in Gaza, Israeli citizens praying on the Temple Mount, and videos of Palestinian terrorists presented as heroes.

  1. Incitement in the education system and home education. About 200 schools operate in eastern Jerusalem. Most of them follow the PA’s curriculum that emphasizes the Palestinian narrative of the Nakba, ignores the existence of the State of Israel and the Oslo Accords, and emphasizes the importance of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the struggle against Israel.

Palestinian parents contribute to the incitement and instill in their children a shocking hatred of Israel and Jews. They do not guard their children against incitement. On the contrary, they encourage the culture of death in their children, celebrate the death of every child and teenager killed during an attack, and declare him a “martyr.”

The Israeli concern now is the expansion of the phenomenon toward the month of Ramadan (March 22–April 20, 2023), when Palestinian youth may unleash attacks full of hatred and commit to taking revenge on the Israelis for the deaths of Palestinian terrorists at the hands of the security forces. They claim they are acting in the name of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and most want to become local heroes and bring honor to their families.

The religious leaders in eastern Jerusalem support this phenomenon, and the public leaders there and PA officials refrain from removing children from the circle of terror. For them, all means are acceptable to fight against Israel: the children are brainwashed with a broad and warped social consensus and religious legitimacy. They cross the barrier of fear with false promises that they will reach heaven.

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