Each year hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested by Israeli forces and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. The United Nations and many human rights groups are concerned by reports from Palestinian children that detail cruel punishments, substandard conditions, and a lack of basic fundamental due process rights in these military courts.
According to the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, as of the end of March 2015, 184 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli custody. B’Tselem notes, “the military law applied in the West Bank…denies them the protections accorded to minors under both international and Israeli law.” A 2013 UNICEF report states, “Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” While noting positive progress on some fronts, a UNICEF update this year states, “The data demonstrates the need for further actions to improve the protection of children in military detention, as reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”
The American Friends Service Committee has posted video clips from a June 2, 2015 Congressional Briefing. Young Adult Volunteers with the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness led the worship at an Interfaith Vigil on the occasion of the International Day for Protection of Children, Monday, June 1, at noon, at the U.S. Capitol’s Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001. The vigil will highlight the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli detention and focus on the need to protect all children, both within our US communities and abroad.
Israel has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Israel has reported their progress in implementing the convention to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee’s observations reflect on Israel’s achievements in relation to the convention and offer recommendations for further actions.
The 221st General Assembly (2015) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called the church’s attention to this issue and directed the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to create information documents, study guides, or other educational materials using information, research, and statistics from the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel, United Nations agencies, including OCHA and UNICEF, and other human rights or nongovernmental organizations, such as B’Tselem, Defense for Children International Palestine, and Amnesty International to be made available through digital download at the PC(USA) website, as well as links to materials and research from other organizations.