Last Wednesday, five Palestinian children were arrested and physically assaulted by Israeli soldiers, in the occupied land of West Bank. The children had reportedly gone to the area to pick up some vegetables, before they were arrested.
The children were between 8 and 13 years old. According to a footage published later, the children were brutally grabbed and pulled by Israeli soldiers into military vehicles. However, Israel is not lawfully allowed to arrest children under 12. One of the witnesses there yelled at the soldiers, “are you embarrassed to arrest children? This is criminal work.”
According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, these children were arrested by the Israeli military in the West Bank near the Havat Maon settlement south of Hebron.
The published video showed that one of the children tried to help the other children, but was taken away by a soldier.
This caused lots of criticism all around the world. US Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a Democrat who has led attempts in Congress to keep Israel responsible for human rights violations against Palestinians, condemned it.
She said “seeing the images of heavily armed Israeli soldiers manhandling and detaining these five preteen Palestinian children is extremely disturbing.”
“Using Israeli soldiers to capture little boys who were reportedly ‘gathering wild vegetables’ in occupied Palestinian land is wrong,” she added.
McCollum proposed a legislation in 2019 to prohibit US assistance to Israel from leading to the detention of Palestinian children, but the bill was never proceeded to the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“I intend to continue to work as hard as I can to ensure US taxpayer dollars provided as military aid to Israel are not being used in any way that violates the rights of any Palestinian, especially children,” the congresswoman said.
To make it worst, B’Tselem announced that each year Israel arrests hundreds of children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It also said that 157 Palestinian children had been arrested by the end of September 2020. During the eruption of Covid-19 last year, the United Nations called on Israel to free detained Palestinian children.
“The best way to uphold the rights of detained children amidst a dangerous pandemic, in any country, is to release them from detention and to put a moratorium on new admissions into detention facilities. We call on the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to do so immediately.” UN officials said in a statement last year.
Ali Abu Aalya, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy who was demonstrating against the occupations in the West Bank, was fatally shot by Israeli troops in late 2020.
McCollum called the shooting of Abu Aalya a “grotesque state-sponsored assassination” at the time, and demanded Biden to investigate the case.
She said she would advise the new Biden administration to conduct a comprehensive investigation and show to the American people that no US taxpayer-funded military funding to Israel rendered material support in facilitating the killing of a child.
But unfortunately, after the passage of 50 days of presidency of President Joe Biden, his administration has been unwilling to criticize Israel’s leadership.
The UN organization for children’s rights, UNICEF, also protested Abu Aalya’s death, pointing to violence against Palestinian children in the occupied territories, including 232 cases involving the injury of Palestinian children.
According to UN data to date, 232 events involving the injury of Palestinian children occurred from January to September this year, some of whom suffered long-term trauma, Ted Chaiban, Unicef Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement in December 2020.
In compliance with international law, UNICEF urges Israeli authorities to completely protect the rights of all children, and to refrain from using violence against them.