-Mark Hage, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
Eight weeks ago, in the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers, full armed, descended on an elementary school for Palestinian kids in the city of Hebron. They abducted a nine-year-old named Zein. (The arrest was captured on video.)
The Israeli military routinely subjects Palestinian children to horrific treatment, including choke holds, forced detention, and violent interrogation. This systemic child abuse is sanctioned by the Israeli government and subsidized with Americans taxes.
U.S. Congressional Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) wants to put an end to this child abuse.
Rep. McCollum has introduced HR 2407, a bill to amend the Foreign Assistance Act to prohibit funding to any country, including Israel, which detains children.
The Intercept reports that “The proposed law would also provide $19 million a year to American, Israeli, and Palestinian nongovernmental organizations to monitor the treatment of children detained by Israel’s army and offer physical and psychological treatment.”
In a public statement, McCollum said, “Israel’s system of military juvenile detention is state-sponsored child abuse designed to intimidate and terrorize Palestinian children and their families. It must be condemned, but it is equally outrageous that U.S. tax dollars in the form of military aid to Israel are permitted to sustain what is clearly a gross human rights violation against children.”
HR 2407 cites evidence from Human Rights Watch and a 2018 report by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization. B’Tselem reported that
“Every year, hundreds of Palestinian minors undergo the same scenario. Israeli security forces pick them up on the street or at home in the middle of the night, then handcuff and blindfold them and transport them to interrogation, often subjecting them to violence en route. Exhausted and scared – some having spent a long time in transit, some having been roused from sleep, some having had nothing to eat or drink for hours – the minors are then interrogated. They are completely alone in there, cut off from the world, without any adult they know and trust by their side, and without having been given a chance to consult with a lawyer before the interrogation. The interrogation itself often involves threats, yelling, verbal abuse and sometimes physical violence. Its sole purpose is to get the
minors to confess or provide information about others.”
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Vermont Congressional Representative
Urge him to co-sponsor & work for the passage of
What happens when a military occupation looms over an entire childhood?
Watch OBAIDA, a short film by Matthew Cassel, which explores a Palestinian child’s experience of Israeli military arrest.
Refuse to Remain Silent
Statement by Breaking the Silence on the 52nd Anniversary of Israel’s Occupation
It’s been 52 years since the onset of the occupation. The government describes this as “52 years since the Six-Day War.” They prefer to talk about the war that ended over 50 years ago, rather than about the one that’s still going on. That way we can talk about the victims of the past rather than about the victims of the present. Certainly not about the victims of the future, currently living unaware that their lives, too, will be sacrificed on the altar of “Greater Israel.”
It’s easy to talk about the Six-Day War. It’s easy to talk about glowing victories following short wars. But the occupation reigns the longest among Israel’s wars, boasting no victories or victors. For 52 years, we have been sending soldiers to control another nation, to determine who will get to work, who can build a home, who will remain free, and who will be imprisoned without trial.
We are the soldiers who carried out the occupation. We know what it looks like. Standing behind us are over 1,200 other soldiers who served in the occupied territories and refused to return home and continue living as if nothing had happened.
For 52 years, the Israeli government has been sending soldiers to risk their lives for a discriminatory regime of segregation in the occupied territories, and then dare to expect them to remain silent about it. We can be the generation that ends the occupation. It won’t be a short or easy path, but the first step is simple and critical: to refuse to remain silent. To share what we did.
When the government speaks seriously about annexation and apartheid, when billions of dollars are invested in “propaganda,” and resistance to the occupation is described as treason, the only act left is to insist on the truth.
Breaking the Silence is a nonprofit organization made up of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the second intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the public to the reality of everyday life in the occupied territories. Its work aims to bring an end to the occupation.