Tell Congress to Advocate for Palestinian Children

From our colleagues in the Office for Public Witness:

The detention of Palestinian minors by Israel raises serious concerns about lack of due process and ill-treatment.  These concerns serve as a call to action for those who feel a responsibility to care for the most weak and vulnerable members of society.

According to the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, as of the end of March 2015, 184 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli custody.   Furthermore, as 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.”

Contact your Members of Congress today:  Ask them to attend an important Congressional briefing to learn more about this issue and to advocate for ending the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in detention.   Entitled, “International Juvenile Justice Reform: Children in Israeli Military Detention,” the briefing will take place Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 9:30 AM in the Capitol Visitors Center, Congressional Meeting Room North.

The briefing will discuss the legal and structural components of the military court system, and situate the detention of Palestinian children within the larger context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  Opening remarks will be provided by Congressman Keith Ellison and featured speakers include Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American who will provide a firsthand account from a child’s perspective and examine the effects of detention.

Also:  If you’re in the DC area, you are invited to attend an Interfaith Vigil on the occasion of the International Day for Protection of Children, Monday, June 1, at noon, at the Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001.   The vigil will highlight the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli detention.


For more information:

“Children in Israeli Military Detention,” UNICEF, February 2015.

“Minors in Detention,”  B’Tselem.

“Military Detention,” Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

“No Way to Treat a Child.”

General Assembly Policy

In 2014, the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved the following policy:

1.     Reaffirms the commitment of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to the human rights of all children, particularly the children of Palestine and Israel.

2.     Reaffirms the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as expressed by the 202nd General Assembly (1990), and affirms its support for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement on children in armed conflict.

3.     Calls upon the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and directs the Stated Clerk to communicate this call to members of the Senate and encourages the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PC(USA) to promote the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in its advocacy with the United States Senate.

4.     Directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to engage in advocacy and public witness for the human rights of children in Palestine and Israel in relation to

  • – widespread and systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture within the Israeli military detention system, including physical violence, psychological intimidation, and violent night arrests;
  • – denial of due process guarantees, including denial of the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, particularly the presence of a parent or family member during interrogation;
  • – the use of coercion or force during interrogations, including physical violence and psychological pressure, to compel children and youth to give testimony, confess guilt, or to provide otherwise incriminating statements against their family, friends, and communities;
  • – the negative impact on former child detainees, including the psychosocial effects and obstacles to reintegration and access to education following their release from custodial detention; and
  • – the discriminatory legal framework in force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory involving separate laws governing children based on religion or ethnicity.

5.     Directs 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.

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