Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi just spent her 17th birthday in Israeli military detention. Tamimi was arrested by Israeli soldiers at her home in December, taken into custody, and charged with several offenses including some relating to her physically assaulting an armed Israeli soldier who entered her family’s property on December 15. Like other Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank, Tamimi is subject to Israeli military law under which, as human rights groups have documented, they routinely experience ill treatment.
For context on the Tamimi family’s resistance to the Israeli occupation of their land, the Israeli military’s responses, and how Ahed’s experience illustrates that of many Palestinian youth, see the piece by Ahed’s cousin, Nour Tamimi, in the Washington Post.
Ahed Tamimi has become of the public face of youth who have been subjected to persistent and troubling practices by Israeli forces with regard to arresting, incarcerating, and trying Palestinian children in Israeli military courts.
“Sadly, this is not an isolated case,” said UN Special Rapporteur, Michael Link. He explained, “Figures from Palestine show that Israel detains and prosecutes between 500 to 700 Palestinian children in military courts annually.”
He went on to say, “We have received reports that these children are commonly mistreated while in detention, subjected to both physical and psychological abuse, deprived of access to lawyers or family members during interrogation, and tried under a military court system in which there are significant concerns regarding independence and impartiality, and which has a worryingly high conviction rate.”
Human rights groups including B’Tselem, and Defense for Children International Palestine have documented the abuse and rights violations to which Palestinian children are subjected in the Israeli military system.
On November 14, 2017, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced a bill to prevent U.S. tax dollars from paying for human rights violations against Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.
The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act (H.R. 4391) requires the Secretary of State to certify annually that no funds obligated or expended in the previous year by the United States for assistance to Israel have been used to support prohibited practices under international law. If the Secretary cannot make this certification, a detailed report is required outlining the amount of money spent in violation of the bill and how it was spent.
As a minimum safeguard, while Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation continue to be arrested and prosecuted within the Israeli military court system, Israeli authorities must respect and ensure basic due process rights and the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment. From the moment of arrest, operations and procedures must be carried out in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, specifically the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Click here to find out if your representative is already a co-sponsor, and if so, send a note of thanks! If not, ask them to add their name as a co-sponsor of H.R 4391.
For more information, see the No Way to Treat a Child campaign.