DCIP and AFSC host Capitol Hill briefing on Palestinian children's rights
Staff from Human Rights Watch, DCIP, and Adalah Justice Project participate in a congressional briefing on June 8, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: AFSC / Carl Rose).
Washington, June 13, 2017—Staff from at least 36 congressional offices joined Defense for Children International - Palestine, American Friends Service Committee 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.”
Previous congressional advocacy efforts as part of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, include a June 2016 letter signed by 20 members of Congress to President Obama urging the appointment of a Special Envoy for Palestinian Children, and a 2015 letter signed by 19 members of Congress to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to prioritize the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.
DCIP and AFSC launched the No Way to Treat a Child campaign with a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill in June 2015, featuring remarks from Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and testimonies from former child prisoners. Palestinian-American teen, Tariq Abu Khdeir, described his experience in East Jerusalem during the summer of 2014, when Israeli border police arrested him and beat him unconscious. Suha, his mother, described the impact Tariq’s arrest and detention had on their family.