Feb. 16, 2021
OTTAWA – Following Red Hand Day, B’nai Brith Canada is calling on the federal government and all Canadians to speak out forcefully against the recruitment and use of Palestinian child soldiers during Palestinian Child Soldiers Week (Feb. 14-19).
Canada has been at the forefront of tackling the international problem of child soldiers, thanks largely to the efforts of retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire — an initiative B’nai Brith strongly supports. Concerned Canadians should take similar efforts against the usage of child soldiers by Palestinians.
On Red Hand Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Every year on this day, we reaffirm our long-standing commitment to help end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts…No child should bear the brunt of conflict and be forced to participate in acts of violence. Canada will continue to be an unwavering advocate against the use of child soldiers and to bring countries together to endorse and implement the Vancouver Principles. Children have the right to be children, away from the atrocities of war.”
“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister’s stated commitment,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “That is why the time has come for Canadians to acknowledge and speak out against an often overlooked part of this problem – the use of Palestinian child soldiers.
“UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – has a key role to play and we believe the time has come for Canadians to direct their voices to that agency.”
“In November 2017, the government launched the Vancouver Principles with the endorsement of 54 UN member states and close to 100 supporting countries as of right now,” said Brian Herman, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Government Relations. “Evidence shows that Palestinian children are being indoctrinated to hate Israelis and that they are, in many instances, being exploited as child soldiers. Canadians must speak out forcefully and lead efforts to stop this, by directing their concerns to UNICEF, which helped develop the Vancouver Principles.”
Several Palestinian terrorist and militant factions use children in their operations. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) all blatantly abuse these child soldiers in the face of weak condemnation. Unless awareness is brought to this issue, Palestinian children will remain at risk of continued exploitation as war resources.
For these reasons, B’nai Brith strongly supports Palestinian Child Soldiers Week and is asking the Government of Canada to join those in support of this welcome initiative, and to call on others to do so.
This year, the objective of those supporting PCS Week is to raise our concerns with UNICEF.
We urge Canadians to call for an end to the recruitment of Palestinian child soldiers through social media posts using these hashtags:
#KidsNotSoldiers #PCSWeek #ChildrenNotSoldiers #NoWayToTreatAChild
On Twitter, you can direct your voices of concern to @RomeoDallaire, using the hashtag #VancouverPrinciples.
Canadians wishing to be heard on this issue can also convey a message by writing UNICEF Canada, a key member of the UNICEF global family, using the text below.
As part of the mission of UNICEF, you have a duty to protect children. Unfortunately, UNICEF has failed to protect Palestinian children by stopping their systemic use in militancy, terrorism, and political violence.
I demand that UNICEF call on Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the PLO, and PFLP to operate in accordance with the 2007 Paris Principles, and end the systemic use of Palestinian children in military efforts of any type.
The institutional child militancy by these organizations includes but is not limited to: combatants, terrorists, riot skirmishers, couriers, spies, lookouts, munitions smugglers, military labourers, and institutional radicalized and racist education.
UNICEF must act! We will not rest until these practices come to an end! UNICEF can no longer treat this as a minor problem. Otherwise it will have failed in its mission. Please use your influence in UNICEF to implement this change, or UNICEF can no longer be trusted with protecting children.