CMEP: The U.S. Government Must Respond to Abuses and Escalating Tensions in West Bank
On October 18, Shadi Khoury, a 16-year-old student at the Ramallah Friends School, was brutally arrested at his home by Israeli authorities. According to his grandmother, he was repeatedly beaten and dragged “barefoot and blindfolded” out of the house. No reason has been given for his arrest. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) urges the U.S. government to take all steps necessary to secure his immediate release.
CMEP remains dismayed that Israel continues to engage in this widespread practice of arresting children, often violently – arrests which are often followed by interrogations without a parent or legal counsel present, coerced confessions, and trials in military courts or administrative detention without charge or trial. As of the end of September, 129 Palestinian children were locked up in detention as “security prisoners.”
The violence against Palestinian children is escalating. More children have been killed in the West Bank this year than in any year since 2006. Just this month, at least six children have been killed, including two boys – 14-year-old Adel Daoud and 17-year-old Mahdi Ladadweh – both shot to death on Oct. 7, and a 12-year-old boy, Mahmoud Samoudi, who died Oct. 10 of gunshot wounds inflicted in late September.
This escalation of severe harm to Palestinian children is itself part of a wider escalation of violence, including over 100 attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers, and armed attacks by Palestinians, that threatens to engulf the region.
The settler attacks have been occurring with apparent impunity, often on Palestinian farmers attempting to harvest their olives, and often spark confrontations in which Palestinians are injured or killed. Most recently, lockdowns of whole Palestinian communities, such as Shuafat refugee camp and Nablus, have resulted in extended periods during which large numbers of Palestinians are being denied access to school, jobs, and healthcare.
CMEP calls on the US government to press the Israeli government to de-escalate tensions by reigning in settler violence and reassessing its rules of engagement and use of force guidelines in confrontations with Palestinians. After the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the U.S. made such a suggestion, seeking to convince Israel to try to “mitigate the risk of civilian harm.” Israeli government officials categorically rejected this call. As tensions continue to escalate, the United States should reassert itself and insist that Israel take concrete steps to de-escalate the violence.
The U.S should also insist that Israel reform its approach to the arrest and detention of children by limiting its use and eliminating the associated violent abuses that have been all too common. Congress can and should take up this issue with urgency. The “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” (HR 2590), legislation currently before Congress, prohibits the use of U.S. assistance for human rights abuses associated with the detention of Palestinian children. Congress should pass this legislation to demonstrate that U.S. taxpayer dollars must not be used to commit abuses against Palestinian children like Shadi Khoury.