As Operation Protective Edge enters its 20th day, the death toll on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides is increasing each day. In the media spotlight, however, is the number of Palestinian casualties, specifically women and children who have died in the crossfire between Hamas and the IDF.
While Israel goes through great and extensive pains to warn civilians of an impending operation, giving them days to evacuate thereby saving their lives, Hamas has urged civilians in Gaza to stay put. Many Palestinians have unnecessarily lost their lives as a result of heeding the commands of terrorists and not the IDF.
Hamas, however, has lost no time portraying Israel as barbaric, as purposely targeting women and children. The international media, eager to show heart-wrenching images of slain children, only help garner more sympathy for Hamas.
While the deaths of civilians is an unfortunate side-effect of war and should be avoided whenever possible, Israel has firmly stated that its main priority is protecting the lives of its own civilians. As Hamas indiscriminately fires rockets into Israel from children’s schools, hospitals and religious institutions, millions of children in Israel are forced to spend their days in bomb shelters instead of enjoying the bright Israeli summer.
Under Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has stated that it is now focusing on dismantling Hamas’s extensive terror tunnel infrastructure. Terror tunnels are used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into Gaza and terrorists into Israel.
However, the question that many are asking is, who builds the tunnels? While the obvious answer is Hamas, a more startling finding shows the true, double-sided nature of Hamas.
In a report published in 2012 by The Institute for Palestine Studies detailing Gaza’s tunnel phenomenon, a large part of Hamas’s terror tunnels was built using child labor.
“At least 160 children have been killed in tunnels, according to Hamas officials,” the report stated.
According to the report’s author, Nicolas Pelham, Hamas was inspired to use child laborers to build their terror tunnels, “much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies.”
Human rights organizations have raised concerns over child labor in terror tunnels since 2008. Hamas said it was “considering curbs” and in 2009, after Operation Cast Lead, created the Tunnel Affairs Commission (TAC).
According to the report, TAC was established by Hamas’s Interior Ministry “in response to public concern at a rising toll of tunnel casualties, particularly of child workers.” TAC “issued guidelines intended to ensure safe working conditions,” but since there is no oversight, it seems that Hamas has failed to truly ensure the safety of child laborers.
Over the last three weeks, the IDF has uncovered more than 31 terror tunnels and 63 offshoots in the Gaza Strip. It is estimated that some 800,000 tons of cement, which entered Gaza to be used for humanitarian means, has been exploited by Hamas to build the terror tunnels.
Not only is Hamas stealing directly from the people of Gaza, but it is also robbing families of their future by literally stealing the lives of their children.