Tariq Abu Khdeir addresses a crowded room during a congressional briefing on Palestinian children in Israeli military detention in Washington, DC, on June 2, 2015. (Photo: DCIP)
Palestinian children have the right to a safe and just future. The No Way to Treat a Child campaign believes the U.S. and Canadian governments must take concrete steps towards this future by holding Israeli authorities accountable for its violations of Palestinian children’s rights.
The early seeds of the campaign were planted in 2013 when a group of local activists, determined to raise awareness about the issues facing Palestinian children, invited Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) to Chicago to lead a workshop on child detention in the Israeli military system. This group, with staff from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and DCIP, formed the core that would become the No Way to Treat a Child campaign.
Over the few years, we have grown from a small group of activists in Chicago to an international movement that seeks to challenge and end Israel’s prolonged military occupation by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. We are fighting to defend Palestinian children and hold perpetrators of grave rights violations accountable. Join us.
Rep. Betty McCollum reintroduces the Palestinian Children and Families Act (H.R. 3103)
On May 5, 2023, U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) reintroduced historic legislation that seeks to promote justice, equality, and human rights for Palestinian children and families by prohibiting Israeli authorities from using U.S. taxpayer funds to commit human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank.
The McCollum bill is the most expansive bill addressing Palestinian human rights to be introduced in the U.S. Congress and builds on previous legislation introduced by Rep. McCollum in the three previous congressional sessions. The legislation was introduced with 16 original cosponsors, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
Rep. Betty McCollum introduces the Palestinian Children and Families Act (H.R. 2590)
On April 15, 2021, U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced historic legislation that seeks to promote justice, equality, and human rights for Palestinian children and families by prohibiting Israeli authorities from using U.S. taxpayer funds to commit human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank.
The Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, or H.R. 2590, provides that no U.S. funds to the Israeli government may be used to support the military detention or ill-treatment of Palestinian children; the seizure, appropriation, or destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the occupied West Bank; or to facilitate further unilateral annexation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government in violation of international humanitarian law.
The bill establishes annual certification and reporting obligations on the Secretary of State to show that no U.S. funds have been used by the Israeli government to support the prohibited activities included in the legislation. The McCollum bill also requires oversight reporting detailing the Israeli government’s human rights violations against Palestinians.
Rep. Betty McCollum introduces H.R. 2407
On April 30, 2019, U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act also known as H.R. 2407, a bill prohibiting U.S. taxpayer funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel.
Specifically, the bill amends Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2378d) commonly known as the ‘‘Leahy Law’’ by adding a new subsection that includes a generally applicable limitation prohibiting U.S. military aid from being used by foreign armed forces to support the military detention or ill-treatment of children in violation of international humanitarian law.
Congressional briefing on H.R. 4391
On June 25, 2018, DCIP and AFSC hosted a congressional briefing in Washington on H.R. 4391 and the situation of Palestinian children’s rights under Israeli military occupation.
Representatives of the American Friends Service Committee, Arab American Institute, the Center for Constitutional Rights, DCIP, and Human Rights Watch discussed how persistent grave human rights violations, systemic impunity, discrimination, and recent U.S. policy decisions, like relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, impact the lives of Palestinian children growing up under military occupation. Staff from at least 58 congressional offices were in attendance.
No Way to Treat a Child goes to Ottawa
In April 2018, Defense for Children International - Palestine participated in an advocacy delegation to Ottawa in late April to meet with members of Parliament and other policy makers to discuss the No Way to Treat a Child campaign.
Between April 24 and 27, Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney at DCIP joined representatives from the United Church of Canada, Mennonite Central Committee - Canada, and Mr. Michael Lynk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 for meetings on Parliament Hill.
First-ever bill on Palestinian human rights introduced in Congress
On November 14, 2017, Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) and nine co-sponsors introduced the first-ever bill in the U.S. Congress focused on Palestinian human rights.
The "Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act," or H.R. 4391, seeks to promote justice, equality, and human rights by ensuring that United States financial assistance provided to the Government of Israel is not used to support the detention of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in a military detention system where ill-treatment is widespread and institutionalized.
Congressional briefing marking 50 years of Israeli occupation
On June 8, 2017, we held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill marking 50 years of Israeli military occupation and highlighting the current situation for Palestinian children living in the occupied, West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Staff from at least 36 congressional offices attended as representatives of Human Rights Watch, the Adalah Justice Project, and DCIP examined how daily violence and systemic discrimination affect the lives of Palestinian children.
The briefing also featured testimony from Yazan Meqbil, a Palestinian youth who described growing up under occupation in the occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar, near Hebron.
Petition demanding end to ill-treatment of Palestinian children
On February 2, 2017, DCIP and American Friends Service Committee delivered a petition to the US State Department signed by over 11,000 individuals standing against ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.
The petition urged the US Secretary of State to prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children and to hold Israeli authorities accountable for widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees.
Calling for accountability through a Special Envoy
In June 2016, twenty members of Congress signed a letter urging President Obama to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian Children in June 2016.
Thanks to over 27,000 individuals who wrote their representatives, we began moving Congress toward concrete action demanding accountability for Israel’s grave human rights violations against Palestinian children.
The Special Envoy would promote greater respect for human rights, increase protections for Palestinian children, and work to hold Israeli and Palestinian governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms.
Congressional briefing on ill-treatment of child detainees
On June 2, 2015, we held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, featuring remarks from Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and testimonies from former child prisoners.
Palestinian-American teen, Tariq Abu Khdeir, described his experience in East Jerusalem during the summer of 2014, when Israeli border police arrested him and beat him unconscious. Suha, his mother, described the impact Tariq’s arrest and detention had on their family.
Over 100 attendees packed the room to hear this testimony, including staff from at least 30 Congressional offices, media, and members of the general public.
Congress urges Obama Administration to protect Palestinian children
In June 2015, we celebrated one of our first major victories when 19 members of Congress signed a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to prioritize the human rights situation of Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces under Israeli military law.
The letter expressed profound concern over Israel’s widespread, systematic, and institutionalized ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees.
Bringing Palestinian children's voices to U.S. audiences
In April 2015, Joyce and John Cassel, a retired teacher and retired psychologist, travelled to the West Bank and worked with DCIP staff to film the stories of four former child prisoners from communities in the Hebron district.
In close collaboration with AFSC and DCIP, Joyce, John, and film editors Amr Kwaji and Nawal Musleh created a powerful short documentary, Detaining Dreams.
The short film was launched in June 2015 and has since been shown to audiences across the country.
Night Raid Photo Exhibit
While on a trip to the occupied West Bank, Richard Cahan, a photojournalist from Chicago, photographed families from the village of Bil’in standing in the doorways to their homes and created a photo exhibit called Night Raid.
The sixteen photos that make up this exhibit are accompanied by descriptions of the Israeli military’s regular practice of arresting Palestinian children from their homes between midnight and 5 a.m.Read more