McCollum’s bill on Palestinian children’s rights: Now is the time to act
Earlier this week, Israeli soldiers dragged 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi out of bed and arrested her. Last week, soldiers had shot her cousin, 14-year-old Mohammad, in the face with a rubber bullet, and Ahed tried to remove two soldiers from her family property after the incident. Mohammad was put in a medically induced coma to dislodge the bullet and reconstruct his jaw. A video of Ahed confronting the soldiers was used as the pretext for her arrest. These children hail from Nabi Saleh, a West Bank village under constant threat by the Israeli army for its weekly protests against land seized for the illegal settlement of Halamish. This is only one of many instances that demonstrate the excessive force used against Palestinian children by Israeli occupation forces.
Now, more than ever, it is urgent for Congress to pass Betty McCollum’s proposed bill, which would prevent the use of US tax dollars for the Israeli military’s detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.
As an observer at Israeli military courts, I regularly witness harrowing scenes of injustice and a lack of due process. One particular case haunts me – that of Jamil,* a short, skinny 14-year-old, also accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, escorted into military court with his ankles shackled. Jamil first appeared before the court during his interrogation, with the military prosecutor requesting an extension. I sat with his father, who was still disoriented from the night their home was raided and his son dragged out of bed and whisked away by Israeli soldiers without warning or reason. Jamil’s father was worried about the young boy’s health, because he was born with a heart murmur. The judge granted the prosecution their request in an incredibly short hearing, and Jamil was taken back to interrogation. Days later, he was brought before the judge again. This time, he was missing two brackets of the braces on his teeth.