C035 Due Process For Palestinian Children in Israeli Military Courts

Original version

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church calls on the State of Israel to guarantee basic due process rights and exercise a prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of detained children (defined as persons under 18 years old), noting that among the practices in Israel’s military detention system that require change are the use of nighttime arrests in the child’s home, physical and verbal abuse, blindfolds and restraints, strip searches, solitary confinement, coerced confessions and confessions written in Hebrew, as well as the separation of detained children from their parents and legal counselors (including the transfer of Palestinian children to prisons within the State of Israel that their parents are not permitted to visit); and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention requests the Secretary of this Convention to communicate this call to the Prime Minister of Israel and the Israeli Ambassador to the United States; and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention calls on the Secretary of State of the United States to certify annually that no funds obligated or expended in the previous year by the United States for assistance to Israel have been used to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international humanitarian law; and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention requests the Secretary of this Convention to communicate this call to the Secretary of State of the United States as well as the United States Senate, the President, and the Vice President.

Explanation

The wording of this resolution and parts of the explanation is taken (with permission of the authors) directly from the much larger resolution, “A Call for the United Church of Christ to Advocate for the Rights of Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation,” approved as amended July 2, 2017 by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ. [The substituted fourth resolve wording “no funds obligated or expended in the previous year by the United States for assistance to Israel have been used to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international humanitarian law” are taken from H.R. 4391,”Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act,” especially p. 9.]
The treatment of children in Israeli military courts has been well documented by Defense of Children International – Palestine (Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted : children held in military detention, April 30, 2012 [1]), Human Rights Watch, Separate and Unequal, Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Dec. 2010 [2], and UNICEF, Children in Israeli Military Detention – Observations and Recommendations – 6 March 2013 [3]. Since 2000 at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been caught up in the Israeli military detention system. Arrests of children often occur during night raids on family homes by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, children are often blindfolded, suffered from physical and verbal abuse and transferred in an army Jeep to an interrogation center where they are interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or parents. Interrogations are intended to result in a confession. Over 90% of West Bank Palestinian children taken to military court are convicted.
In April 2016, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) published a study of 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015. Three out of four children had endured some form of physical violence after being detained by Israeli forces. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent or lawyer present during the interrogation process. Interrogators used position abuse, threats, or isolation to coerce confessions from some of these children. At least 66 children were hold in solitary confinement for an average period of 13 days. One child was held in isolation for 45 days. (Defense for Children International – Palestine, No Way to Treat a Child, Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System, 14 April 2016 [4]).
Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. Israeli Jewish settlers who reside in the West Bank enjoy protections provided by the Israeli civilian legal system. In contract, Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, which fails to ensure and, in fact, denies basic and fundamental rights. Palestinian children in the West Bank thus suffer abuses and constraints of a military detention system which no Israeli child living in the West Bank ever experiences. The occupation thus creates a system where Palestinians living in the same occupied territory as Israeli settlers have inferior rights and protections under the law – a system where Palestinian children experience an environment of fear, dehumanization and violence that is contradictory to the flourishing of life to which all children, including Palestinian and Israeli children, aspire.
Furthermore the State of Israel ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on October 3, 1991 – a convention that calls on states to “Treat every child deprived of liberty with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age,” to use arrest and imprisonment of children “only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” to give detained children “prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty” and “the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits,” and in n case to subject children to “torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37 [5])
The U. S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 [FAA] states that no assistance will be furnished to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” Josh Ruebner in his paper, “US Military Aid to Israel : policy implications and options : November 2, 2016” writes: “Given that US military aid to Israel does not further the advancement of human rights but rather directly contributes to Israel’s systematic human rights violations against Palestinians and that these human rights violations cannot constitute “legitimate self-defense’, and take place not in the context of “internal security”, but in the framework of furthering a foreign military occupation, strong prima facie evidence exists to find Israel is in violation of the FAA and AECA [Arms Export Control Act].” (p. 19) [6]
Adoption of this resolution is not expected to require expenditures that would have in impact on the Diocesan budget.
[1] www.dci-palestine.org/bound_blindfolded_and_convicted
[2] www.hrw.org/reports/2010/12/19/separate-and-unequal
[3] www.unicef.org/oPt/UNICEF_oPt_Children_in_Israeli_Military_Detention-Observations-and-Recommendations - 6_March_2013.pdf
[4] www.dci-palestine.org/Palestinian_children_in_the_Israeli_Military_Detention_System
[5] https://treaties/un.org/doc/publication/mtdsg/volume%20:/chapter%20iv/iv-11.en.pdf
[6] https://www/scribd.com/.../US-Military-Aid-to-Israel-Policy-Implications-Options


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