Shadi Khouri is a 16-year-old student at the Ramallah Friends School, a 150-year-old Quaker school in Palestine. This week, he was arrested by a dozen Israeli soldiers. No reason was given for his detention.
In a public letter recounting Shadi’s arrest, his grandmother Samia Khoury shared that the teenager was beaten and taken in the early morning, barefoot and blindfolded, from his family home in East Jerusalem. He was held by police and interrogated without the presence of his parents or a lawyer.
What is happening to Shadi is terrifying and—devastatingly—not unique. This violation is just one example of the systematic abuse felt by Palestinian children living under occupation.
The Israeli military has a documented history of human rights violations against detained Palestinian children. Since Since 2013, UNICEF has been in a dialogue with the authorities to raise concerns about the rights of children in military detention. Researchers from the nonprofit Save the Children found that children in the Israeli military detention system face inhumane treatment. Of the 470 youth they interviewed, eight in 10 were beaten. The majority were strip-searched. More than half were threatened with harm to their families.
Shadi is a child. He should be home with his family. It’s critical that members of Congress and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken press Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog to secure Shadi’s immediate release.
Big picture, the United States must use its influence to protect the rights of Palestinian children. The Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (H.R. 2590), introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN- 04), would prohibit the use of U.S. funds to support the military detention of children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and further annexation of Palestinian territory.
These practices violate the safety, dignity, and human rights of Palestinians. U.S. foreign assistance should not be used in ways inconsistent with the American people’s values. American tax dollars should advance human rights, security, and dignity.
Hold Shadi, his family, and his classmates in the Light, and urge your members of Congress to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not used to support injustices against Palestinians.