1. Action Alert
  2. Middle East & Iran

Every Child Needs Love and Care

By Diana Ohlbaum, May 6, 2019

If you don’t like how migrant children are being treated at the hands of U.S. border authorities, then you certainly won’t like how Palestinian children are being treated at the hands of the Israeli military.

Each year, hundreds of Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 are detained by Israeli military authorities under conditions that fail to meet international human rights standards. Many of these children are locked up for throwing stones, a crime for which they can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

International human rights organizations have documented numerous violations, including the interrogation of children without a guardian or lawyer present, the use of unnecessary force against children during arrest, and physical abuse in custody. Palestinian children are required to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language they often don’t understand.

The Israeli military is not alone in the mistreatment of Palestinian children; the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas authorities in Gaza also commit serious abuses. But as the occupying power, Israel has a duty to protect the rights of children under its effective control.

That’s why a new bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) is so important. The ‘‘Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act’’ (H.R. 2407) prohibits the use of any foreign aid to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of children in violation of international humanitarian law. The bill also states the policy of the United States to promote human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation and provides funds for human rights monitoring and the treatment of victims of abuse and torture.

This bill opens a conversation in Congress about the impact of Israeli military occupation on the lives of Palestinians, especially children. As Americans and as Quakers, we bear a special responsibility to ensure that our foreign assistance recognizes the humanity of all people and protects the rights and dignity to which all are entitled under international law. How a nation treats its most vulnerable members, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, is the true measure of its greatness.

Diana Ohlbaum

  • Senior Strategist and Legislative Director for Foreign Policy

Diana Ohlbaum directs FCNL’s foreign policy lobbying team and leads an effort to replace the current U.S. foreign policy paradigm of military domination and national superiority with a more ethical and effective one based on cooperation and mutual respect.