The Violence Must Stop: CMEP calls on Palestinian and Israeli Leaders to Protect Children and Pursue Peace
As many Americans prepare to be with family and loved ones over the Thanksgiving weekend holiday, Israeli and Palestinian parents are experiencing a different reality. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) continues to be dismayed by the escalation of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem and its devastating impact on children. CMEP calls on Palestinian and Israeli leaders to protect children and pursue peace.
On Nov. 23, two bombings in Jerusalem killed a 16-year-old Israeli-Canadian Jewish seminary student named Aryeh Schupak and wounded at least 18 others. CMEP condemns this attack. We pray for a swift recovery for those who were injured.
The same day, Israeli forces demolished a school in Masafer Yatta, part of ongoing demolitions in the villages of that area that may ultimately affect over 1,000 Palestinians, many of whom are children. We call for an immediate end to any further demolitions in Masafer Yatta.
The violence must stop. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are obligated to protect children and civil society. The oppressive policies of the occupation of the Palestinian people in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza must be brought to an end. Violence is not the means to obtain security, self-determination, and a just peace.
Every day devastating news about the horrific impact of the current violence on both Israeli and Palestinian children continues to be reported. On the night of November 22, Palestinians in Jenin seized the body of a 17-year-old Israeli Druze boy who had been killed in a traffic accident. On that same night, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy named Ahmad Amjad Shehada was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Nablus.
Meanwhile, Shadi Khoury, a 16-year-old Palestinian student at Ramallah Friends School, remains in detention over a month after his violent arrest, apparently accused of throwing a stone that caused no injuries. He had a hearing on November 23. He should be released unless he is charged with a serious offense. [Update: Shadi was released on Sunday, Nov. 27.]
Adult leadership in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) must take steps to de-escalate violence and especially to protect children. CMEP is concerned that the Government of Israel’s response to the Jerusalem bombings will do the opposite, with the likelihood of raids and the collective punishment of Palestinians. Closures of the West Bank often result in restricted mobility for Palestinians, including limited access to jobs and other critical aspects of daily life. Long-term solutions that address the human rights violations of the occupation must be pursued for the long-term security of both Israelis and Palestinians. CMEP’s Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, speaks about the current realities: “The United States government must stop hiding its head in the sand and ignoring the ongoing implications of both US policies and complacency regarding the occupation of the Palestinian people. If the US truly cares about Israel and equality between Israelis and Palestinians, the unjust policies of occupation must be brought to an end.”