Samidoun is redistributing the following call from the United Church of Canada, calling for freedom for Palestinian child prisoners:

Call for the Release of Palestinian Children

 

October 25, 2011

Call for the release of Palestinian children held as prisoners by Israel and for just treatment of all others.

While 1,027 Palestinian prisoners are being released over the next two months, this number does not yet include any of the 164 prisoners who are children; and the approximately 4,345 who are not scheduled for release are subject to treatment that violates international law.

Background

Under the terms of a prisoner exchange, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been freed in return for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in two stages beginning October 18 and ending two months later. The first group of 477 includes 27 women but none of the 164 Palestinian children (12–17 years old) in prison. If all the 1,027 are released, there will still be some 4,345 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, many held in violation of international law and basic human rights.

Defence for Children International is an organization with whom the United Church has worked closely in many situations in the world. According to DCI , whose appeal is supported by UNICEF , over 700 Palestinian children per year are detained with “credible reports of torture and/or ill-treatment”  such as night arrests, blindfolding, physical violence, and interrogation, most often for throwing stones. In early September there were 164 children reported to be in detention facilities.

In June, prior to the release of Gilad Shalit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Palestinian prisoners held by Israel would receive harsher treatment as punishment for the continued captivity of Shalit. The wide range of measures included increasing solitary confinement, strip searches, night raids, cutting back on visits, clothing, and books, and prohibiting children over eight years old from having physical contact with their imprisoned parents. These measures amount to collective punishment, which is specifically prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention. As a result of this policy, over 600 prisoners began resisting with a hunger strike beginning September 27: see Kairos Palestine Statement on Prisoners’ Strike.

See the Diakonia website  for more information on international humanitarian law as it applies to the occupied Palestinian territories. For further information on the situation of Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel, including the response of the Israeli government, see the 2011 B’tselem report No Minor Matter .

An end to unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners is one step toward a just peace in Israel Palestine.

Take Action

Write to your MP and

  • commend the release of the captives on both sides
  • urge the Canadian government to use its good offices to seek the release of all Palestinian children currently held in detention, including all children serving sentences as well as those being held in pre-trial detention

Write to the Israeli Embassy and Prime Minister and

  • urge the Israeli government to ensure that the punitive measures imposed by the Israeli Prison Service on Palestinian prisoners are lifted immediately and the rights of all those detained are respected and restored
  • urge that all measures related to prisoners and those released conform to the highest standards of international law and human rights obligations both including due process, fair trial, rights of political prisoners and prisoners of war, and the rights of persons living under occupation as guaranteed by the Fourth Geneva Convention

Please send your letters to:

Your MP: the House of Commons  website has a complete list of MPs’ fax and phone numbers

  • The Rt. Honourable Stephen Harper
    Office of the Prime Minister
    Phone: 613-992-4211
    Fax: 613-941-6900
    E mail: Stephen Harper
  • The Israeli Embassy in Canada
    50 O’Connor Street
    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2
    Tel: 613-567-6450
    Fax: 613-567-9878
    E-mail: Israeli Embassy
  • The Israeli Prime Minister
    Office of the Prime Minister
    3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187
    Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919
    Israel
    Fax: 972-2-651-2631
    E-mail: Israeli Prime Minister

Send a copy to:

  • Barbara Lloyd
    Program Coordinator, Public Witness
    Partners in Mission Unit
    The United Church of Canada
    Tel: 416 231 5931 ext. 4196
    Toll-Free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 4196
    E-mail: Barbara Lloyd

For more information, contact:

  • Wendy Gichuru
    Program Coordinator, Africa and Middle East
    Partners in Mission Unit
    The United Church of Canada
    Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 4078
    Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
    E-mail: Wendy Gichuru