Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes around 700 children in military courts each year.

Three out of every four of these children endure some form of physical violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers or officers following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children are interrogated without legal counsel and without their parents.[1]

The U.S. government is well-aware of ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child detainees. Since 2007, each Department of State annual human rights country report on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory has highlighted these issues.

In 2015, 19 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to prioritize this issue in the U.S. government's bilateral relationship with Israel.[2] One year later, 20 members of Congress called for concrete action, this time in a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian Children.[3]

When it comes to children, detention must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. The best interests of the child must be a primary concern. In no circumstance should children be detained and prosecuted under the jurisdiction of military courts.

Until we demand Israeli authorities comply with international law, we are simply enabling abuse and perpetuating injustice against Palestinian children.

 


[1] DCIP, No Way to Treat a Child: Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system (2016), www.dci-palestine.org/no_way_to_treat_a_child_palestinian_children_in_the_israeli_military_detention_system

[2] June 2015 letter is available at http://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/letter_to_secretary_kerry_from_19_members_of_congress

[3] June 2016 letter is available at http://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/letter_to_obama_from_20_members_of_congress

 

  

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Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) is a local, independent Palestinian human rights organization committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.