Letters to the editor, one of the most widely read parts of newspapers, can reach, educate, and inspire a broad audience. That’s why they’re such a powerful tool for advocating for the rights of Palestinian children. Local politicians often monitor the letters in their local papers to understand what their constituents care about, so it can also be a good tool to influence their views.
No Way To Treat A Child advocates around the world have submitted letters to the editor in support of H.R. 2590, the Palestinian Children and Families Act, which would prohibit Israeli authorities from using U.S. taxpayer funds to demolish Palestinian homes and property, further annex the occupied West Bank, and arrest and detain Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. Here are examples from New York and Arizona.
Writing a letter to the editor in support of H.R. 2590 is straightforward. Here are five tips to make your letter stand out.
1. Do your research.
Know the letter to the editor requirements from the publication you’re submitting to. What is the word limit? Does the paper take general commentary, or does it need to reference a recent article? Publications typically explain the requirements for letters on their website. Following these guidelines increase the chance of your letter being published.
2. Start strong and explain the issue clearly.
Letters to the editor are typically short—under 250 words—so you need to make your point quickly and concisely. At the bottom of this article, you’ll find sample text that explains H.R. 2590 and the No Way To Treat A Child campaign that you can use in your letter. Begin your letter with a strong hook that grabs the reader’s attention. Overall, you want to make sure you succinctly explain the issues and a way to help—in this case, supporting H.R. 2590. Read through our resources to make your case clearly.
3. Know your audience.
You are probably submitting a letter to your local paper, so you’re familiar with the community. Make sure you express why people in your community, specifically, should care about Palestinian children and H.R. 2590. Use everyday language people understand and avoid jargon and acronyms.
4. Make it personal.
If you’re writing a letter to the editor in support of Palestinian children, you clearly care. Why? By including your personal story and perspective in the letter, readers will be able to relate to you and the issue.
5. End with a strong call to action.
After reading about the widespread and systematic detention of Palestinian children by Israeli forces, many people will feel called to help. By including a strong call to action, you are giving them a tool to help. The specific call will depend on your community and whether your lawmaker has already co-sponsored H.R. 2590. Here are some example calls to action:
- Thank your lawmaker for co-sponsoring H.R. 2590
- Call your lawmaker and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2590
- Attend a local event or rally in support of Palestinian rights
- If you have a local group or organization they can join or contact to learn more, include that too!
On April 15, 2021, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced H.R. 2590, the "Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act," or the Palestinian Children and Families Act.
H.R. 2590 seeks to promote justice, equality and human rights for Palestinian children and families by prohibiting Israeli authorities from using U.S. taxpayer funds to detain and torture Palestinian children, demolish and seize Palestinian homes, and further annex Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.Read more
Demand Israeli authorities immediately end solitary confinement of Palestinian child detainees
Israeli authorities routinely detain Palestinian children in solitary confinement solely for interrogation purposes, a practice that amounts to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, as documented by Defense for Children International - Palestine.
Join us in urging the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to demand that Israeli authorities immediately end the practice of using solitary confinement on Palestinian child detainees, whether in pretrial detention for interrogation purposes or as a form of punishment. The prohibition must be enshrined in law.
Over a four-year period, between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2019, DCIP documented 108 cases where Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military were held in isolation for two or more days during the interrogation period. All were boys aged 14-17. Children were isolated for an average of 14 days and Israeli authorities held one child in solitary confinement for 30 days.
Evidence and documentation collected by DCIP overwhelmingly indicate that the isolation of Palestinian children within the Israeli military detention system is practiced solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation. DCIP has found no evidence demonstrating a legally justifiable use of isolation of Palestinian child detainees, such as for disciplinary, protective, or medical reasons. Solitary confinement has been used, almost exclusively, during pre-charge and pretrial detention. Solitary confinement is designed to psychologically break children and coerce them into confessing.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically detains and prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel detains and prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year. Nearly three out of four Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces experience some form of physical violence, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
We, the undersigned, urge you to demand that Israeli authorities immediately end the practice of using solitary confinement on Palestinian child detainees, whether in pretrial detention for interrogation purposes or as a form of punishment. The prohibition must be enshrined in law.
Israel must release all Palestinian child detainees amid COVID-19 pandemic
A Palestinian child prisoner detained by Israeli forces in late July has positive for COVID-19, the first known case involving a Palestinian child detainee confirmed by Defense for Children International - Palestine.
Demand that Israeli authorities take immediate action to release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers due to the increasing vulnerability created due to the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus and to safeguard their right to life, survival, development, and health in accordance with international law.
Palestinian children imprisoned by Israeli authorities live in close proximity to each other, often in compromised sanitary conditions, with limited access to resources to maintain minimum hygiene routines, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
COVID-19’s impact is exacerbated by these living conditions making Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and detention centers increasingly vulnerable.
There is no way Israeli prison authorities can ensure the health and well-being of Palestinian child detainees as long as they continue to be in a custodial detention setting.
In a headcount at the end of June 2020, 151 Palestinian children were detained in Israeli prisons, according to the latest figures released by the Israel Prison Service.
While international law demands that children only be detained as a measure of last resort, custodial pre-trial detention is the norm for Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank.
COVID-19 in Israeli prisons and detention facilities
Israeli forces detained a 15-year-old Palestinian boy* around 4 am on July 23 from his home in Al Jalazoun refugee camp located north of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. He was transferred to Israel’s Shikma prison, located inside Israel in Ashkelon, for interrogation, according to Iyad Misk, a DCIP lawyer. Israeli authorities postponed his interrogation after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite being infected with COVID-19, Israeli authorities extended the boy's detention for another eight days since he has yet to be interrogated, according to information collected by DCIP. He is currently being held at an Israeli police station in Akka and is expected to be transferred soon to another location to be placed in quarantine.
“There is no way Israeli forces can justify the detention of a child currently infected with COVID-19,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “By extending this boy’s custodial detention, Israeli authorities are recklessly endangering his health and well-being along with the health of other detainees. Israeli authorities must release all Palestinian child detainees immediately.”
After initially containing the virus in May, cases began to rise in June in Israel and across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. To date, Israel recorded at least 78,512 cases with a total of 24,583 active cases, and 569 deaths, according to Haaretz. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there have been at least 17,434 total cases, including over 450 new cases recorded on August 6, and 94 deaths, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
At the end of June, 151 Palestinian children were detained in Israeli prisons and detention centers, an increase of six percent from May, according to data released by the Israel Prison Service (IPS). 48 percent of Palestinian child detainees were held in pretrial detention, according to IPS data. Israeli authorities held 79 percent of Palestinian child detainees at prisons and detention centers inside Israel, which amounts to unlawful transfer in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
On March 19, DCIP called on Israeli authorities to immediately release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons due to the rapid global spread of COVID-19.
In May, three United Nations officials also called on Israeli authorities to release all child detainees and to end arrests during the pandemic, declaring in a joint press statement, “[t]he best way to uphold the rights of detained children amidst a dangerous pandemic, in any country, is to release them from detention and to put a moratorium on new admissions into detention facilities. We call on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to do so immediately.”
Globally, the World Health Organization, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and U.N. human rights experts have all issued guidelines and statements highlighting the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in detention settings.
Israel ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, obligating itself to implement the full range of rights and protections included in the treaty, including that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all decisions affecting children, and detention must only be used as a measure of last resort for the shortest period necessary.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically detains and prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Israel detains and prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year. Nearly three out of four Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces experiences some form of physical violence, according to documentation collected by DCIP.
Updated on August 6, 2020.
*The boy's name is known to DCIP but is not disclosed here due to privacy concerns.
We, the undersigned, demand Israeli authorities take immediate action to release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons due to the rapid global spread of COVID-19.