New bill prohibits Israeli military from using U.S. funds to detain and ill-treat Palestinian children

May 01, 2019
A young Palestinian girl confronts Israeli soldiers in the central West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on April 21, 2018. (Photo: ActiveStills / Anne Paq)

Washington, May 1, 2019—U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act also known as H.R. 2407 yesterday, a bill prohibiting U.S. taxpayer funding for the military detention of children by any country, including Israel.

While generally applicable, H.R. 2407 seeks to promote justice, equality and human rights by ensuring that U.S. financial assistance provided to the Government of Israel is not used to support widespread and institutionalized ill-treatment against Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces and prosecuted in Israeli military courts lacking basic fair trial protections.

“Israel’s system of military juvenile detention is state-sponsored child abuse designed to intimidate and terrorize Palestinian children and their families,” Congresswoman McCollum said after introducing the bill. “It must be condemned, but it is equally outrageous that U.S. tax dollars in the form of military aid to Israel are permitted to sustain what is clearly a gross human rights violation against children.”

By prohibiting U.S. financial support of abuses against Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system, H.R. 2407 aligns U.S. policy toward Israel with existing U.S. law and international law.

Specifically, the bill amends Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2378d) commonly known as the ‘‘Leahy Law’’ by adding a new subsection that includes a generally applicable limitation prohibiting U.S. military aid from being used by foreign armed forces to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of children in violation of international humanitarian law. The amendment would apply to any foreign armed forces body that is detaining children in a military court system, including Israel.

The bill includes a clear statement of policy that Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children amounts to gross violations of human rights inconsistent with international humanitarian law and the laws and values of the U.S.

If passed, H.R. 2407 would also authorize the appropriation of funds up to $19 million to monitor human rights abuses and provide treatment to Palestinian child victims of Israeli military detention and torture.

H.R. 2407 is the second piece of legislation introduced by the Democratic Congresswoman from St. Paul, Minnesota highlighting Israel’s abuses of Palestinian children under military detention. The groundbreaking legislation H.R. 4391 or Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act was introduced in November 2017 by Rep. Betty McCollum and nine original co-sponsors to the 115th Congress, gathering support from a total of 31 members of Congress.   

During the Obama administration in 2015 and 2016, Rep. Betty McCollum also led efforts on two letters that raised grave concerns about the conditions of Palestinian children in Israeli military custody.

Each year, the Israeli military detains and prosecutes some 700 Palestinian children. Israel is the only country in the world to automatically prosecute children in military courts that lack basic safeguards for a fair trial. DCIP has documented Israeli forces’ routine ill-treatment and abuses of detained Palestinian children, including the use of physical violence, solitary confinement and torture.

“As Israel’s military occupation becomes more entrenched with no end in sight and the human impact of occupation is more and more visible, lawmakers are increasingly willing to challenge U.S. policy toward Israel,” said Brad Parker, Senior Adviser for Policy and Advocacy at Defense for Children International - Palestine.

“H.R. 2407 is sending a clear message to Israeli authorities that the systemic impunity enjoyed for so long concerning widespread ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees must end,” said Parker.

DCIP's joint advocacy campaign with American Friends Service Committee, the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, focuses on congressional advocacy to support legislative vehicles like H.R. 2407 to organize and support an extensive network of people demanding immediate protections for Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention.

 

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