Press Release July 7, 2014
Over the past few weeks, violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has escalated and involved specific attacks targeting children and youth which has resulted in the torture and deaths of children on both sides of the conflict. World Vision condemns the recent murders of Israeli and Palestinian youth including the abduction and killing of three Yeshiva students, dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, Naftali Fraenkel (16), and Israelis Gilad Shaar (16) and Eyal Yifrach, (19); and the kidnapping and brutal slaying of Palestinian Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir (16) whose autopsy showed he was beaten and burned alive.
“The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Unity Government, must deplore the use of children as political pawns in the ongoing conflict and strife in the region, and take immediate action to ensure this practice ceases.” said Alex Snary, National Director for World Vision in Jerusalem. “This kind of violence against children brings shame on Israel and Palestine and all of the adults involved in the politics of the region. The lives of children are priceless and both Israeli and Palestinian children should be equally valued and protected.”
As more details of the circumstances of the arrest and brutal beating of 15-year-old Palestinian American Tarek Abu Khdeir by Israeli police are revealed in media, World Vision denounces any form of violence against children.
Tarek Abu Khdeir is the cousin of the murdered Palestinian youth Muhammad Abu Khdeir and is a U.S. citizen from Tampa, Florida. He was visiting relatives in Jerusalem when Israeli police brutally beat and arrested him.
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to the well-being of children worldwide. World Vision’s first priority is the well-being of all children—Israeli and Palestinian. The ongoing occupation and conflict has robbed generations of Palestinian and Israeli children of peace, justice, and hope for a future where fullness of life is possible. World Vision believes the Government of Israel, and the Palestinian Unity Government must ensure the legitimate security concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians.
In the West Bank, Palestinian children continue to be subjected to different laws and criminal procedures than those applied to Israeli settler children, even for the same charges and the same incidents. Palestinian children are arrested and tried under military law, while Israeli settler children are rarely arrested and, if prosecuted, are tried under civil law. Every year the Israeli military arrests 500-700 Palestinian children. Israeli incarceration of Palestinian minors is routine rather than a last resort. Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem provides statistics on Palestinian minors in the custody of Israeli security forces at: http://www.btselem.org/statistics/minors_in_custody.
World Vision urges the United States government to address these concerns with the Israeli military. World Vision implores amendments to Israel’s military legislation including the following:
- Prohibit the use of violent, threatening, or coercive behavior during questioning and detention. Procedures supporting this include, prohibiting questioning at night, videotaping questioning, ensuring children are not deprived of sleep, water, food or toilet access, and maintaining careful medical records from the time of arrest and throughout the detention to monitor for evidence of violence. Children should not be asked or required to sign confessions or statements written in a language other than the one spoken in their home.
- Prohibit the night arrest of children, and ensure children are never transported on vehicle floors and are only shackled, using methods appropriate for children, in extreme circumstances, when no other option is available.