Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General, Saeb Erekat, on Thursday slammed recent comments by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Palestinian children, calling it another example of Israel’s “propaganda machine” to justify its “racist narrative” against Palestinians.
In a video released online on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he was shaken “to the core of (his) being” after seeing footage of a Palestinian father telling Israeli soldiers, “Shoot this little boy; after all you always do that to small children,” while holding his son at a demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Nilin.
In his video statement, Netanyahu called the Palestinian father’s actions “inhumane,” and claimed it showed a broader disregard for children in Palestinian society.
PM: "This video shook me to the core of my being"
Retweet if you agree Palestinian & Israeli children deserve peace.https://t.co/1e0aVqxISK
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 2, 2016
Erekat said, “Netanyahu justifies the racist narrative that Palestinians are to blame, rather than Israel’s military machine and armed settlers that exercise violence and oppression against the land and people of Palestine.”
Erekat expressed further outrage over Netanyahu’s instrumentalization of Palestinian children saying, “His public relations tactics won’t change the … oppression and humiliation that our children suffer on a daily basis, nor will it make us forget that 578 Palestinian children were killed in Gaza during the summer of 2014.”
In response to Netanyahu saying in the video that “children are not cannon fodder,” Erekat emphasized that “Palestinian children are the most precious things in the world.”
He said, “Blaming the Palestinians, and pretending to care about our children, is not only cheap but disingenuous coming from the same government that continues to use every opportunity to violate the rights of Palestinian children, including their fundamental right to a dignified life.”
Erekat referred to a recent law passed by the Israeli Knesset allowing the imprisonment of East Jerusalem Palestinian children under the age of 14.
— Palestine PLO – NAD (@nadplo) August 4, 2016
According to Ma’an, 54 Palestinian minors have been killed by Israelis since a wave of protests swept across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October.
In March, children’s rights group Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) said the UN reported that between October and January, Israeli forces injured at least 2,177 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, prisoners’ rights group have estimated that 414 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as of May, including 104 under the age of 16.