Every year, more than 700 Palestinian children are arrested, imprisoned, and tried in the Israeli military system. Most of them are accused of simply throwing stones. Many children—some as young as 12—are taken from their families in Israeli army night raids and detained without charges or due process.
From the moment of their arrest, these children encounter ill treatment, and in some cases torture, at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police, and interrogators.
To advocate for the rights of Palestinian children, AFSC helped launch the No Way to Treat a Child campaign this year. The campaign is a joint project with the Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy, Defense for Children International Palestine, and other organizations.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign held a congressional briefing on the issue of Palestinian child detention in June, drawing staff from more than 30 congressional offices. The campaign also mobilized thousands of supporters to urge congressional members to sign a letter to the U.S. State Department, calling for the administration to prioritize children’s human rights in its bilateral relationship with Israel. Nineteen members of Congress signed the letter, authored by Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum, in an unprecedented show of concern about Palestinian children.
“The military detention of Palestinian minors by Israel raises serious concerns that serve as a call to action for those who feel a responsibility to care for the most weak and vulnerable members of society,” says Jennifer Bing, Palestine-Israel program director in Chicago. “We are glad to see that members of Congress are willing to raise this important issue with the U.S. State Department, but more advocacy is needed to pressure officials to do the right thing.” ■