Tell Congress: Support Palestinian children's rights

As the situation for children living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, rapidly deteriorates, Palestinian children pay an increasingly high prices for Israel’s prolonged military occupation.

We need you to take action!

Write your members of Congress today, asking them to urge President Obama to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian Children.

What is a "Special Envoy"?

Special Envoys are senior officials at the US Department of State responsible for collecting and analyzing information and monitoring developments on specific foreign policy issues. Each position has a specific regional or thematic mandate. Special Envoys are typically used to ensure that significant focus and attention will be placed on a given issue.

A Special Envoy on Palestinian Children would monitor the situation of Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, promote greater respect for human rights to increase protections for Palestinian children, and work to hold Israeli and Palestinian governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments.

Issue: Palestinian children in Israeli military detention

Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year. From the moment of arrest, these children are subject to physical violence, sometimes amounting to torture. The status quo is not sustainable and it is unacceptable.

Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report Children in Israeli Military Detention Observations and Recommendations.

Amid heightened violence in the fall of 2015, the number of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons skyrocketed. By the end of December, 422 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system. By the end of February that number rose to 440. This is the highest number of child detainees since data became available in January 2008.

In a recent report, Defense for Children International - Palestine examined affidavits from 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015. Three out of four endured some form of physical violence following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent present during the interrogation or access to legal counsel.

Interrogators used position abuse, threats, and isolation to coerce confessions from some of these children. At least 66 children were held in solitary confinement for an average period of 13 days. In 2015, Israeli authorities held Abdel-Fatah Ouri, 17, in isolation for 45 days.

Recent amendments to Israeli military law concerning children are only cosmetic and have had little to no impact on their treatment during the first 24 to 48 hours after an arrest, when most of the ill-treatment occurs.

International law is clear: children should only be detained as a last resort, for the shortest appropriate period of time, and under absolutely no circumstances should they be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. And yet, year after year, we see Palestinian children experiencing widespread, systematic, and institutionalized ill-treatment at the hands of Israeli forces. The US government must take action now.

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.