Tell Congress to advocate for Palestinian children

The detention of Palestinian minors by Israel raises serious concerns about lack of due process and ill-treatment. These concerns serve as a call to action for those who feel a responsibility to care for the most weak and vulnerable members of society.

Third Thursdays for Israel-Palestine

The ecumenical advocacy community's “Third Thursdays for Israel-Palestine” is urging you to contact your members of Congress to ask them to attend a congressional briefing to learn more about this issue and to advocate for ending the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in detention.

According to the Israeli human-rights organization, B’Tselem, as of the end of March 2015, 184 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli custody. Furthermore, as B’Tselem pointed out, “The military law applied in the West Bank … denies [these Palestinians] the protections accorded to minors under both international and Israeli law.”

A 2013 UNICEF report states, “Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.”

Improve protection of children

While noting positive progress on some fronts, a UNICEF update this year states, “The data demonstrates the need for further actions to improve the protection of children in military detention, as reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”

International Juvenile Justice Reform: Children in Israeli Military Detention will take place Tuesday, June 2, at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol Visitors Center.

The congressional briefing, “International Juvenile Justice Reform: Children in Israeli Military Detention,” will take place Tuesday, June 2, at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol Visitors Center, Congressional Meeting Room North.

The briefing will discuss the legal and structural components of the military court system, and situate the detention of Palestinian children within the larger context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Opening remarks will be by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

Featured speakers include Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American who will provide a firsthand account from a child’s perspective and examine the effects of detention.

An Interfaith Vigil on the occasion of the International Day for Protection of Children, Monday, June 1, at noon, will be at the Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC. The vigil, open to the public, will highlight the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli detention.

Editor's note: For more information:
  • Children in Israeli Military Detention” (UNICEF, February 2015)
  • Minors in Detention” (B’Tselem)
  • Military Detention” (Defense for Children International Palestine)
  • No Way to Treat a Child

    Sample Letter

    Dear Senator/Representative,

    I am writing, as a person of faith who feels a responsibility to care for the most weak and vulnerable members of society, to express my concern about Palestinian children held in Israeli custody and to ask you to attend an important Congressional briefing on this topic on June 2.

    A 2013 UNICEF report states, “Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.”

    While noting positive progress on some fronts, a UNICEF update this year states, “The data demonstrates the need for further actions to improve the protection of children in military detention, as reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”

    To learn more about this issue I urge you or your staff to attend the Congressional briefing, “International Juvenile Justice Reform: Children in Israeli Military Detention,” on Tuesday, June 2, at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol Visitors Center, Congressional Meeting Room North. Among the featured speakers will be a Palestinian-American who will provide a firsthand account from a child’s perspective and examine the effects of detention.

    Please take the time to learn more about this issue and to advocate for ending the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in military detention.

    Thank you for your consideration,

Letter to the Editor