Palestine through the eyes of children
“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said, “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.” (Matthew 19:14)
Children created in God’s image, boys and girls in Palestine experience violence, conflict and trauma every day.
Imagine these little ones — whom Jesus called and welcomed (Matthew 19:14) — not allowed to travel freely in their own homeland and beyond.
Imagine their every movement restricted and crossing checkpoints and walls to get to school. Worse, imagine their schools being demolished or funding cut off.
Imagine these tender souls denied access to health care services and left tortured.
Imagine them losing a beloved one — a father, a mother, a sister, a brother or friend.
Imagine them as victims of war and conflict, traumatized with every bullet and bomb.
Imagine these children arrested and detained in military court, denied access to basic freedoms and rights.
Life for Children in Palestine Today
Palestinians have lived under military law in the West Bank since 1967.
Multiple sources — including UNICEF and the State Department — report Israeli military’s regular use of force and violence upon detainees as well as a lack of fundamental fair trial rights.
There is no exemption for children.
Since 2000, more than 10,000 Palestinian children have been subject to the Israeli military court system.
When a Palestinian child is arrested, they are put into the military detention system and come before military courts. According to Defense for Children International – Palestine, Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 Palestinian children in military courts each year.
From testimonies of 739 Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank and prosecuted in Israeli courts between 2013 and 2018, Defense for Children International – Palestine found that:
- 73% experienced physical violence following arrest
- 86% were blindfolded
- 49% were detained from their homes in the middle of the night
- 96% were interrogated without the presence of a family member
Where Does Hope Lie? United Methodist Commitments to the Protection of Children
Throughout Scripture, God expresses a preferential concern for the poor, the vulnerable, and the needy, including children.
For this reason the first Methodist Social Creed (1908) called for the abolition of child labor.
As the United Methodist Social Principles state, “Children have the rights to food, shelter, clothing, health care, and emotional well-being as do adults, and these rights we affirm as theirs regardless of actions or inactions of their parents or guardians. In particular, children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional, and sexual exploitation and abuse.” (Social Principles, ¶162.C)
We as Christians seek to protect and uphold the rights of the most vulnerable, especially children. Regardless of the child’s actions, we uphold the rights of children to legal protections. The best interests of the child are of primary concern.
We are committed to a just and lasting peace for Israel and Palestine. To stop the cycle of violence, we must protect children from being made any more vulnerable to the traumas of war and violence.
We call on the United States, as the largest aid provider to the region, to ensure that funds to Israel are not used to mistreat Palestinian youth in the Israeli military detention system and courts.
— Urge your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor HR 2407: Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Military Occupation Act. The bill prohibits US tax dollars from funding Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children.
- Minors in Jeopardy: Violation of the Rights of Palestinian Minors by Israel’s Military Courts.
- No Way to Treat a Child: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System.
- Military Detention Fact Sheet.
- Military Court Watch.
- Watch the BBC’s “Diaries of a Childhood in Military Detention.”
Hold an event in your church or community on the issue.
- Hosting a prayer vigil.
- Host an educational event, consider:
- A panel discussion.
- Inviting local leaders to speak.
- Screening the short BBC documentary, “Diaries of a Childhood in Military Detention.
What you can do
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