Child soldiers in Israel-Palestine conflict

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has frequently exposed children to wars, leading them to actively engage in military training and even fights. Between 2000 and 2004 non-governmental organizations realized that Palestine children were involved in suicide bombers and attacks against Israel. Israel too provided military training to their children and they were engaged in wars against Palestine.

Between 2000 and 2004, when the Palestinians renewed conflicts against Israel due to the occupied Palestinian territories in West Bank and Gaza Strip. 104 children were among the 670 Israelites that the killed during wars. There were also over 520 Palestinian children killed by Israel during that period. Most of them were killed in checkpoints, during attacks and demonstrations. When the Israelites realized that the Palestinian children were engaged in wars. They started detaining them. A large number of Palestinian children were detained in prison camps that did not meet the international standards for the treatment of prisoners and juveniles.

The Israel armed forces accept volunteers aged below the age of 18 to perform non-combat tasks. One can only perform combat tasks when they are 18. Children are accessed and interviewed at the age of 16 by the armed forces to ascertain that they can engage in war and issued formal call up notices at the age of 17. Two military academicians offer military training. One is religious and the other is secular. Each year approximately 27000 students study youth corps courses that prepare them for military training. They are later involved in a summer program organized by a Gadna for them to experience firsthand soldier experiences. Courses offered include training on how to use weapons, the history of the military and navigation.

There is no proof to show that Palestinian children were engaged in any formal education on military wars. However, documented evidence by non-governmental organizations shows that close to 30 children were actively engaged in war during the Palestine territorial wars. The children were majorly engaged in roles such as delivering messages, fights and suicide bombing.

In 2000, Israel signed an agreement with the International Criminal Court to end the engagement of children in wars. The government initiated processes to end the deployment of children. It also introduced psychological counseling for children who had been exposed to wars. However, in 2002, Israel expressed disinterest in the treaty.

All Israelis are expected to serve the national service. Women serve as soldiers for 24 months and men 36 months. In 2004, several young Israelis wrote a letter to the government seeking exemption from national service. Five of them were imprisoned for one year and denied their plea.


Barber, Brian K. Adolescents, and war: How youth deal with political violence. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Achvarina, Vera, and Simon Reich. “No place to hide: Refugees, displaced persons, and child soldier recruits.” Child soldiers in the age of fractured states. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010. 55-76.

Singer, Peter Warren. “The new children of terror.” The making of a terrorist: Recruitment, training, and root cause 1 (2005): 105-19.

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