Earlier this month Professor Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said that since that date, “Israel has detained approximately 1 million Palestinians in the occupied territory, including tens of thousands of children. Currently, there are 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including 160 children and approximately 1,100 of them are detained without charge or trial.” Her first report to the council focused on the “widespread and systematic arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Palestinians” as a structural component of Israel’s occupation.
“The enforcement of deprivation of liberty of Palestinians in the occupied territory rests in the hands of the Israeli military,” Albanese continues, “which writes, enforces and reviews these martial laws that only apply to the Palestinians ... Palestinians are routinely arrested and detained without charge or trial, often based on secret evidence and for an indefinite period of time. … In military courts, where right to defense is simply not enforceable, Palestinians are presumed guilty, registering a steeply high conviction rate of 99% and forcing most of them to resort to plea bargain.”
The Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (HR 3103) finds that “the Government of Israel and its military detains around 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year and prosecutes them before a military court system that lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process in violation of international standards. Israeli security forces detain children under the age of 12 for interrogation for extended periods of time even though the prosecution of children under 12 is prohibited by Israeli military law.”
The bill argues that “actions by the Government of Israel in the occupied West Bank, including the detention and prosecution of Palestinian children in the Israeli military court system, the seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians, and further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law and internationally recognized standards of human rights — (A) are contrary to the values of the American people and the efforts of the United States to support self-determination, human rights, and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis; and (B) undermine efforts by the United States to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Following the Israeli military operation in Jenin earlier this month — which claimed the lives of one Israeli and 12 Palestinians (including four children) and injured one Israeli and 143 Palestinians, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that “hundreds of housing units in Jenin Refugee Camp were damaged, with some becoming uninhabitable. The operation led to the internal displacement of over 500 Palestinian families, comprising more than 3,500 people. … At least 40 families, comprising 173 people (including 64 children) remain internally displaced. … Due to a lack of alternatives, some of the originally 3,500 displaced during the operation have returned and are staying in their uninhabitable homes.”
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