FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - December 17, 2020
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Denounces the Occupation's
Disproportionate Impact on Palestinian Children
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is guided by a strong commitment to respecting the human rights of all in Israel/Palestine, with particular attention to the most vulnerable. We believe for there to be any prospect for a just and lasting peace, all people must be afforded their human rights and provided opportunities to flourish. Under the current Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands, Palestinians of all ages living in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza live without the same civil rights enjoyed by the Jewish Israeli citizens in both Israel and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian children and youth are among the most vulnerable demographic affected by the realities of the occupation.
Palestinian children and young people are regularly subjected to harassment by the Israeli army and police. This harassment too often leads to young Palestinians being held without civil protections by the Israeli military. Children and youth are often subject to abusive behavior by the authorities, which has been well documented by a number of leading international advocacy groups, including UNICEF and Human Rights Watch. Too often, these young people are wounded or killed by Israeli gunfire. Such was the case earlier this month when Ali Abu Aliya was shot in the stomach and killed by the Israeli military. Claiming the use of "riot dispersal means," the military denied the use of live ammunition. According to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), Ali was the fifth young person killed by Israeli forces this year. His offense seems to have been that he was present during a clash between other young people and the authorities.
Ali was scheduled to celebrate his fifteenth birthday on the night when he was killed. Instead, his family mourned his death. Rubber bullets and live ammunition should never be directed toward children. In the case of physical unrest or clashes between civilians and the military other tactics must be employed.
As Americans, we support the State of Israel with our tax dollars and by our government being its champion on the world stage. The United States turns its back on the Israeli occupation of lands that by international agreement belongs to the Palestinians. Through our military aid, the U.S. directly subsidizes the occupation and the mistreatment and abuse of Palestinian children. Tragically, the United States government increasingly gives consent. The U.S. rightfully condemns Palestinian actions that harm Israeli citizens but sits by silently when our ally, the State of Israel, incarcerates and kills Palestinian young people. The U.S. is complicit when we make weapons employed in the ongoing occupation and used in disproportionate retaliation to Palestinian resistance. A just peace depends upon a mutual affirmation of the rights of all people in the land, by all in the land. The continued abuse of Palestinian children under the Israeli military occupation only brings us further away from the peace so desperately needed for Israel/Palestine and her peoples.
Churches for Middle East Peace takes seriously Jesus' admonition that: Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those in Israel/Palestine who witness to and work for a just peace in that land. Blessed are those in our country who witness to and work for justice and peace in our land and the Holy Land. And, blessed are all who nurture and care for the needs of the young, who, as Jesus said, are of the kingdom of God.
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.