This disturbing practice of deadly child abuse is on the rise in Muslim societies all over the world, most notably in the Palestinian areas and in Pakistan as also in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). While the average Israeli or Indian citizen does not usually make the connection, there are striking similarities between the threats that face their two countries. Muslim terrorist organizations that recruit – sometimes forcibly – these teenagers, justify this illegal and immoral practice by noting that children, much like females, are less likely to be intercepted by security forces before they carry out their missions of death. In both conflicts, the value of a child’s life (not to mention the lives of those unfortunates who find themselves within the radius of death and destruction when the bomb is detonated) has become subordinate to the aspirations of militant Islam and militant nationalism. And while the recruitment and indoctrination of Muslim children to engage in terrorism and armed conflict in Indian Kashmir has not reached the unprecedented levels of the current Intifada that targets Israel; concerned Indian citizens (indeed persons living in any region where militant Islam has declared a Jihad) should be aware of the threat that the cult of martyrdom directs at democracies worldwide.8
Many of this Journal’s readers live in India and the surrounding region. While generally familiar with the problems emanating from Jammu and Kashmir, they remain largely unaware of the highly troubling direction taken by wide-scale Palestinian recruitment and training of children to engage in terrorist violence. This paper attempts to address the following vexing questions, in the hope that the lessons learned will be relevant to those facing similar threats in South Asia and elsewhere: How pervasive is this form of child abuse in the present Israeli–Palestinian conflict? How is it inspired?
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