February 18, 2020
B’nai Brith Canada
OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada is calling on the federal government to speak out forcefully against the recruitment and use of Palestinian child soldiers in advance of Palestinian Child Soldiers Week (Feb. 18-21).
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. We seek to ensure that similar efforts are aimed by Canadian leadership at the usage of child soldiers by Palestinians.
On Feb. 12, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Today, on the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, we reaffirm our commitment to work with the international community to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts. Every child around the world deserves to be protected from abuse and violence, and should be given a safe space to learn and grow. This is a human rights issue.”
“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister’s stated commitment,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, “which is why the time has come for our government to acknowledge and speak out against an often overlooked part of this problem – the use of Palestinian child soldiers. For too long, attention has been devoted to child soldiers in other parts of the world, but not to a region where the affliction is so apparent.”
“In November of 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. Canada must speak out forcefully and lead efforts to stop this.”
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.
Canadians can make their voices heard on this issue and convey a message by CLICKING HERE TO SIGN OUR PETITION to Prime Minister Trudeau.
To read the full text of our petition, click here.