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New Bill Would Protect Palestinian Children from Abuse

DC briefing
Photo: / AFSC

For Immediate Release 

New Bill Would Protect Palestinian Children from Abuse

Quaker org urges fast passage to protect human rights

WASHINGTON, DC (November 14, 2017) Today, Rep. Betty McCollum introduced new legislation designed to hold Israel accountable for continued abuse against children held in Israeli military detention. The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act would ensure that U.S. financial assistance provided to Israel is not used to support holding Palestinian children in Israeli military detention or prosecuting them in a military court.

“There is a long and well documented history of Palestinian children being abused in military detention,” said Jennifer Bing, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Palestine-Israel program. “This bill is an unprecedented action in support of Palestinian rights. Military detention is no way to treat a child.”

The bill’s introduction comes after years of advocacy by AFSC, Defense for Children International - Palestine, and others. Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children each year in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Under Israeli military law, Palestinian children have no right to a lawyer during interrogation, and frequently report physical and verbal abuse from the moment of their arrest.

The bill’s advocates expressed particular concern that Palestinian children were subject to a different legal process than Israeli children. “Palestinian and Israeli children experience separate and unequal treatment under the law,” said Aura Kanegis, AFSC’s Director for Public Policy and Advocacy. “While Palestinian children are subjected to regular abuse in military detention, no Israeli children, including those who live in the West Bank, are tried in Israeli military courts.”

The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act requires the Secretary of State to certify annually that no U.S. financial assistance to Israel has been used to support the ill-treatment of Palestinian children. “The certification required by this bill is a key step needed to ensure accountability,” said Bing. “The U.S. gives Israel $3.8 billion in military aid a year. We want to ensure this money is not going towards harming children.” 

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.