Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press after discussions with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, July 2014. Photo: U.S. Department of State
Ramallah, June 25, 2015–A U.S. government human rights report released today highlights grave violations against Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation.
The annual country reports on human rights practices, which include a specific section covering the situation of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), raises a number of issues related to ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners and denial of fair trial rights in Israeli military courts. It notes other grave violations against Palestinian children, including the killing and maiming of Palestinian children and attacks on schools in Gaza by Israeli forces. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released the annual report at a press conference in Washington.
“For over a decade, ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system has been widespread and systematic,” said Khaled Quzmar, DCIP’s general director. “Report after report reaffirms this, yet there remains no political will to pressure Israeli authorities to hold perpetrators accountable. The U.S. administration must demand justice and accountability for Palestinian children or the situation of children’s rights will continue to worsen.”
The report highlights the fatal shootings of Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu Daher, 16, by Israeli forces during a demonstration near Ofer military prison in the West Bank city of Beitunia on May 15, 2014. The report also notes the beating of Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American teen beaten unconscious by Israeli border police in July 2014 in East Jerusalem.
Each year the U.S. Department of State drafts and publishes country reports on human rights practices, known as the Human Rights Reports, that cover the situation of human rights in countries around the world.
Since 2007, each annual country report on Israel and the OPT has included data and information on ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention, denial of fair trials rights in Israeli military courts and other grave violations against children committed by Israeli forces and settlers.
Last week, nineteen members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Kerry urging him to prioritize the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. The letter, initiated by Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN), noted that “Israel's military detention system targeting children is an anomaly in the world,” and that UNICEF has found ill-treatment of Palestinian children is “widespread, systemic and institutionalized” throughout the detention process.
The lawmakers urged the Department of State to prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children and “address the status of Israel's military detention system's treatment of Palestinian children in [the] annual human rights report.”
In early June, DCIP participated in three days of advocacy in Washington including a congressional briefing on the widespread ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. The June 2 briefing on Capitol Hill drew over 100 attendees, including staff from at least 30 different congressional offices. Events were organized by DCIP, the American Friends Service Committee, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation as part of the “No Way to Treat a Child” campaign.