3rd Thursday Action Alert: Urge Your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3103
On May 5, 2023, Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4th) introduced the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (H.R. 3103).
As stated in the accompanying press release, H.R. 3103: “ … prohibits U.S. taxpayer funding to the Government of Israel from being used for 1) the military detention, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention; 2) supporting the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property and homes in violation of international humanitarian law; and, 3) any support or assistance for Israel’s unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory in violation of international humanitarian law. The Secretary of State is required to certify annually to Congress that foreign aid to Israel does not violate any of the outlined prohibited uses. The bill also requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit an annual report to Congress detailing the expenditure of U.S. taxpayer funds by Israel for ‘off-shore procurement’ and compliance with Congressionally mandated requirements. The goal of this provision is transparency and accountability for the expenditure of U.S. foreign aid, as we do with all countries.”
The bill includes several findings, such as:
- Approximately 3,100,000 Palestinians live in the West Bank, of which around 42 percent are children under the age of 18 who have lived their entire lives under Israeli military control.
- Children are entitled to special protections and due process rights under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
- The Government of Israel and its military detains around 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year and prosecutes them before a military court system that lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process in violation of international standards.
- Israeli security forces detain children under the age of 12 for interrogation for extended periods of time even though the prosecution of children under 12 is prohibited by Israeli military law.
- The nongovernmental organization Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) collected affidavits from 766 West Bank children who were detained by Israeli forces between 2016 and 2022, and concluded that— (A) 75 percent of the children endured physical violence following arrest; (B) under Israeli military law, children do not have the right to a lawyer during interrogation; (C) 97 percent of the children did not have a parent present during their interrogation; (D) 66 percent of the children were not properly informed of their rights by Israeli police; (E) 86 percent of children were not informed of the reason for arrest; (F) 59 percent of children were arrested from their homes during nighttime military incursions ….
- Israel’s drive to perpetuate its control over the occupied West Bank results in other serious violations of international law, including the unlawful demolition of Palestinian homes and the forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians.
- The destruction of property in an occupied territory is prohibited under international humanitarian law, unless absolutely necessary for military operations.
- The United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported between April 15, 2021 and March 30, 2023, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 1,840 Palestinian structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of 2,170 people, including 1,104 Palestinian children.
This legislation follows previous legislation introduced in the 115th, 116th, and 117th Congresses led by Congresswoman McCollum (H.R. 4391, H.R. 2407, and H.R. 2590, respectively).
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ supports this bill. Urge your representative to defend Palestinian human rights, especially those of children, and co-sponsor H.R. 3103.