The Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, H.R. 3103, introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04), seeks to protect Palestinian human rights and ensure no U.S. taxpayer funds are used to support abusive practices in the occupied territories.
H.R. 3103 is an urgently needed step toward ending U.S. complicity in ongoing, systemic injustices inflicted on Palestinians. The bill explicitly acknowledges and condemns the ill-treatment Palestinian children and families face, declaring these practices to be contrary to “the values of the American people” and efforts to promote dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.
If passed, H.R. 3103 would prohibit any U.S. foreign assistance from being used to support the following:
The Military Detention of Children
American taxpayer dollars should not be used to support the military detention of children anywhere—whether at the U.S.-Mexico border or abroad. The Israeli military has violated the rights of Palestinian children for many years, and these violations have continued unabated.
Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) gathered affidavits from 766 West Bank children detained by Israeli forces from the West Bank between 2016 and 2022. They concluded that 75% of the children experienced physical violence while in custody.
In the past year, Israel has further accelerated its longstanding and unlawful practice of demolishing Palestinian homes in the occupied territories. According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between April 2021 and March 2023, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 1,840 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. As a result, approximately 2,170 individuals, including 1,104 Palestinian children, have been displaced.
In March 2023, OCHA also reported that 58 schools in the West Bank, which 6,500 children attend, are subject to demolition orders issued by Israeli authorities. Demolitions clearly and deliberately undermine the prospects for a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians and create oppressive conditions that leave Palestinians with no choice but to leave their homes and lands.
The unilateral annexation of any parts of the occupied territories constitutes a grave violation of international law. It could irreparably damage the prospects for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Annexation will only deepen inequality, injustice, and conflict. Under its new government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has increased the pace of illegal settlements in the West Bank, furthering the annexation of Palestinian territory.
H.R. 3103: An Important Step
In addition to prohibiting U.S. funds from being used to support abusive practices against Palestinians, H.R. 3103 enhances transparency and accountability by requiring the Department of State to either certify that no U.S. funds are being used for prohibited purposes or issue a report to Congress detailing any violations by the Israeli government. These reports would serve as an essential foundation for future efforts to protect and promote the rights of Palestin
Congress should send a strong message: U.S. funds will not support the military detention and mistreatment of children, the destruction of family homes and schools, and the further annexation of Palestinian land. By cosponsoring H.R. 3103, members of Congress can align U.S. assistance with American values and international law.