There are two places to visit if you want to know the human impact of Israel’s 50-year military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory: an Israeli military court and the sitting room of a Palestinian family. I have been to both.
I work for the American Friends Service Committee, which has been involved in advocacy and humanitarian work with Palestinians for more than 50 years. In that capacity I co-coordinate the “Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child” campaign with Defense for Children International—Palestine. For decades we have documented escalating violations of the rights of Palestinian children by Israeli military forces.
Children under 18 years old currently represent 46 percent of the 4.68 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (70% are under the age of 30). This current generation has grown up in the shadow of failed negotiations and with futures stifled by systemic discrimination, persistent settlement expansion, blockade, and repeated military offensives.
Israeli military courts in the West Bank lack fair trials and due process, and don’t recognize the rights of prisoners. At least 500-700 Palestinian children are held in Israeli military detention in the West Bank every year. These children often experience abuse, especially immediately following arrest. Over 90% of the children are convicted in “courtrooms” housed in Israeli military bases.
Abuses suffered in prison last a lifetime. In the past 50 years, 700,000 Palestinians have been incarcerated by Israel, representing 40 percent of the male Palestinians living under occupation