Washington, June 13, 2017—Staff from at least 36 congressional offices joined Defense for Children International - Palestine and other human rights advocates last Thursday for a congressional briefing on Palestinian children’s rights situation under half a century of Israeli occupation.
Representatives of Human Rights Watch, the Adalah Justice Project, DCIP, and more examined how daily violence and systemic discrimination affect the lives of Palestinian children. The briefing also featured testimony from Yazan Meqbil, a Palestinian teen who described growing up under occupation in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, near Hebron.
“I don't know if I can call this life,” Yazan told the standing room only crowd. “It's hard for people to understand or to imagine a soldier coming into your house after midnight, with a mask and so many weapons. It's scary."
Amid escalating violence since October 2015, the human rights situation on the ground for Palestinian children has steadily worsened. Israeli forces and security guards killed 32 Palestinian children, making it the deadliest year in a decade for West Bank children. In just the first five months of 2017, a further nine Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces. As Gaza nears 10 years under Israeli military blockade, children slip deeper into poverty, with many still living in protracted displacement.
The briefing was sponsored by DCIP and the American Friends Service Committee as part of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.
“Another generation of Palestinian children are growing up under the shadow of military detention, repeated military offensives, and systemic discrimination,” said Brad Parker, staff attorney and international advocacy officer for DCIP. “It’s up to our members of Congress who value human rights and want to guarantee a safe and just future for all children in the region to demand Israeli authorities respect international law and be held accountable for ongoing violations against Palestinian children.”