Article 38 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted in 1989) condemns the recruitment and involvement of children in hostilities and armed conflicts. In 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted a treaty that raises the age limit for compulsory recruitment and participation in combat to age 18. Article 36 of the same UN document calls on states to protect children against any kind of exploitation.
When Arab children are killed or injured, it makes headlines in Western media reports. But rather than investigate who is behind the participation of children in armed confrontation, Western journalists tend to report what they see on the streets.
Moreover, the age-old news adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," is all the more true when the victims are children. No matter what the circumstances, the sight of a wounded or dead child is heartrending.
Hamas is killing Palestinian children because they make effective delivery systems for killing Israelis. They also sacrifice them because wounded or dead children paint Israelis as heartless and cruel in the eyes of the world, and the Israelis themselves.
The death of Arab children on the front lines - extolled as shahids or martyrs - has become a cynical weapon in the arsenal of Hamas and other Arab leaders. As long as the deaths of children serve their cause, Palestinian leaders will continue to employ this strategy. Using Palestinian children as combatants and targeting Israeli children must stop; the world community must take a clear moral stand.