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Act now

Israel is the only country in the world that routinely arrests, detains and tries children in a military court system.

My cousin, Ahed Tamimi, was jailed for eight months in an Israeli prison when she was just 16. She was there with many other women and children. Some were under ‘administrative detention’ – meaning they may be held in prison, without any official charge or a trial, for years.

Palestinian children who are detained in Israeli prisons face a great deal of trauma. Because of what they have been through, even after their release, many will not be able to enjoy their childhood again. When I was only 12 years old, I was stopped on the border coming back from Jordan and interrogated for three hours by Israeli forces. I did not have a parent or a lawyer with me, so the interrogation was illegal under international law. But they did not care.

After this incident, I decided to register myself as a journalist. Soon I became the youngest press card-carrying journalist in the world. Being accredited provided me with some protection. But, of course, journalists too are routinely arrested, injured and even killed in occupied Palestine.

Today [Sep 14], I will be speaking as a witness at a public hearing, organised by the NGOs ActionAid and Al-Haq. I will talk about some of the human rights abuses and violations of international law that Palestinian children face. Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Givara Budeiri – who was violently arrested by Israeli forces while covering a peaceful demonstration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem in June – will also be there to speak about Israel’s attacks on press freedom. Other witnesses will be testifying about the forced displacement of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, and the theft of land and natural resources in the Jordan Valley.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council is calling on member states to cooperate fully with its Commission of Inquiry into violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory. This investigation is long overdue. The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians.

Palestinian children, like all children, have a right to be safe in their homes and schools. They have the right to be free from harassment, violence, arbitrary arrest, and attacks from Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Excerpted: ‘My generation can liberate Palestine and end the occupation’

Janna Jihad, "Act now," The News. 2021-09-16.
Keywords: Social sciences , Human rights , Military court , Israeli forces , Harassment , Violence , Givara Budeiri , Ahed Tamimi , Israel , Palestine