The bill [introduced in] Congress this week is a significant step forward for all those who want to align our values with the actions — and aid monies — of our government. Now we need the rest of Congress to act by swiftly passing this breakthrough legislation. Looking at what has been accomplished since a small group of us sat at my kitchen table three years ago, agonizing over how to end these abuses, I know this vital change is possible.
Imagine you are a child between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. The army comes to your home in the middle of the night, wakes you from your bed, blindfolds you and ties your hands with plastic cuffs.
Your parents’ pleas do not stop the soldiers from roughly taking you and throwing you in their Jeep, never telling you or your parents what you are charged with or where you are going.
You arrive at a detention cell in an Israeli settlement where you are interrogated without a lawyer or family member present, and you are pressured to confess to throwing stones so you can go back home to your family. Once you sign the confession, written in a language you can’t read, you then face a military court hearing where a military judge sentences you to prison for three months, in a detention center in Israel where your family members are likely unable to visit.
“[We] strongly endorse Rep. Betty McCollum’s Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. In order for the US to play a constructive role in bringing about a comprehensive and sustainable end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must ensure we are not supporting the continued trauma inflicted on Palestinian youth entangled in the Israeli Military Detention system.”
— Churches for Middle East Peace
“Jewish tradition teaches that each and every single person has inherent dignity and worth and must be treated accordingly. This legislation recognizes and acts upon the inherent dignity and worth of Palestinian children and sends the message that the United States is committed to a future with freedom, safety, and equality for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
— Jewish Voices for Peace
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) today introduced legislation — the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act — to prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children. The full text of the bill can be found here.
An estimated 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli security forces and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system since 2000. Independent monitors such as Human Rights Watch have documented that these children are subject to abuse and, in some cases, torture — specifically citing the use of chokeholds, beatings, and coercive interrogation on children between the ages of 11 and 15. In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has found that Palestinian children are frequently held for extended periods without access to either their parents or attorneys.
“This legislation highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”