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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Belgium accuses Israel of using 'child soldiers,' ends arms sales that would bolster IDF

Accusing Israel of using 'child soldiers,' Belgium is about to determine that it will no longer sell arms to Israel that would bolster the IDF.
The Belgian daily De Morgen quotes Minister Patricia Ceysens from the Flemish regional government as saying: "There's a consensus [among ministers] not to approve exports that would strengthen Israel's military capacity."

Ceysens said this after a discussion on policy regarding weapons exports to Israel following the operation in Gaza. A final resolution has not been passed yet, but Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht already said recently that "given the current circumstances, weapons cannot be shipped from Belgium to Israel."

According to a recently-released report by the European Institute for Research and Information on Peace and Security on Belgian arms exports to the Jewish state, Israel is the fourth largest importer of Belgian arms in the Middle East. In 2007, Belgium sold Israel weapons (mostly light firearms) to the tune of $5,409,223, according to the report.

The report, which accuses Israel of human rights violations, also says that Belgium's major weapons clients in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia (69 percent), Jordan (17 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (4.2 percent). The 15-page report does not deal with human rights violation in those countries.

Quoting a 2003 amendment to Belgian law which forbids the sale of weapons to armies with child soldiers, the report says that Israel "accepts and arms underage volunteers." Further on, the report mentions "use of underage Palestinians as informants and sometimes human shields."
The 'child soldier' accusation is particularly odious, especially in light of the 'Palestinians' use of children as human shields. Here's the basis for that accusation.
The Israeli Defense Forces' Gadna program runs a one-week military training session on a base as part of the curriculum at most Israeli high schools. The army accepts volunteers from the age of 17 into non-combat posts.
To the best of my knowledge, that first sentence should read "most secular Israeli high schools." The religious high schools (or most of them), whose graduates make up 40% of the combat troops, don't participate (someone can correct me about that in the comments if I am wrong).

More importantly, I spent a week in Gadna as a tourist in 1972. The program was mostly hiking with some exercise programs. NO weapons handling (possibly target practice, but that's no different than sending a kid to a rifle range, which goes on in most western countries).

They may remember my group well at the Gadna outside Eilat (which no longer exists). We dared an overweight counselor to jump three meters into a net like each of us had done. The soldiers decided to help by holding the net with us. The counselor went straight through the net and broke his foot in about four places.... Some military training....

By the way, the picture at the top of this post is of a stamp issued by the Israel Philatelic service in honor of Gadna in 1982.

Bottom line: The Belgian charge is absurd. I wonder if they would cut off sales to Jordan (at least four times ours) or Saudi Arabia (at least 17 times ours) if they attacked Israel. I would bet that those sales would not be cut off.

P.S. The rolls we get in Gadna, they say they're really fine
One fell off the table and killed a friend of mine
Oh I don't want to go to Gaaaaadna
Imma, I want to go back to Ohio
Imma, I want to go home
(Song made up by fellow tour participants about our Gadna stay)


At 1:40 PM, Blogger Parker said...


I understand it 17 year old who are done with high school has start basic two months before they turn 18.

As of 10 years ago, Gadna kids got to fire an M16 once on the second to last day.

I'm having fun trying to picture you in Gadna. :-)

Having said that, the Belgians are full of #$%^!

At 6:49 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Belgians who aren't really a country want to cut off arms sales to Israel? They aren't impairing Israel's ability to arm itself and the accusation is beneath the dignity of a response!

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Canadian Infidel said...

That's kinda funny, in Canada you can join the military regular and reserve at age 17, and many do. This is also I believe the policy in most western countries. does that mean we are employing "Child Soldiers"?

And In Belgium to be a career officer(level 3) in the military you must be between 16 and 20 years old. Should they bring themselves up on charges of employing "Child Soldiers)

From the Belgian Defence Site
De kandidaat beroepsonderofficier van niveau 3+ moet ten minste 16 jaar oud zijn en mag de leeftijd van 20 jaar nog niet bereikt hebben op 31 december van het jaar van indiensttreding.

At 2:03 AM, Blogger Don said...

Did anyone ask the manufacturer and his employees if they minded losing such a large account?


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