Houthis entice child soldiers with keys to ‘enter paradise’ when they die

A senior Houthi military official has admitted that they have inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their army since the beginning of the war in 2014. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2019
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Houthis entice child soldiers with keys to ‘enter paradise’ when they die

DUBAI: Houthi militants in Yemen would give child soldiers keys, telling them that it was for “entering paradise” when they died, UK tabloid the Mirror reported.

“They told us the key was for us to enter paradise if we were killed,” a child told government-backed soldiers, according to the British news site.

The Houthis, backed by Iran and led by Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, have long used children as soldiers in the now four-year long civil war. Al-Houthi was highlighted as a preacher of hate in Arab News’ special series targeting figures who incited hate and fear across all religions and nationalities.

In December 2018, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to Associated Press that the militia had inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their army since the beginning of the war in 2014.

Children as young as 10 have been found fighting on the front lines of the conflict in Yemen. Those who try to flee are recaptured and forced to continue fighting, a former child soldier told the Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations.

Samah Hadid, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office, said that Houthi forces were “taking children away from their parents and their homes, stripping them of their childhood to put them in the line of fire where they could die.”

Ahmed Jesar, one of the children who was kidnapped and taken at the mere age of 13, told the Mirror of his story.

“I was studying in school when the men arrived at the classroom,” he said adding that, “They told me to get up and took me away – I was very frightened. They gave me a gun and gave me a week’s training. But then we got caught up in a gunfight.”

“My friend, who was the same age as me, was killed. I saw his body on the ground. I was only 13. I should have been playing with my friends and learning at school, not watching people being killed. I was taken to hospital because I had been injured. I knew I had to get away and managed to escape when no one was looking,” he continued.

Another boy, 12-year-old Abdul Haziz, told the tabloid: “My uncle was forced to take me to join them. They gave me a gun. But then my uncle was killed in a missile attack. They took me aside and said, ‘You must get revenge for the death of your uncle’. They gave me the drug qat [a stimulant] and then another drug. I didn’t know what it was. I eventually managed to escape.”

According Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights, the Iran-backed Houthi militants have recruited more than 10,000 children between the years 2015 and 2018.


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 25 June 2019
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.