Graphic: United Methodists for Kairos Response

October was a deadly month for Palestinians, and the brutality is continuing with the months-long military campaign to violently stamp out Palestinian resistance in the West Bank, called “Operation Break the Wave.” The Israeli military has killed at least 29 Palestinians, almost half of them children. Palestinians continue to engage in mass civil disobedience, strikes, and demonstrations. The siege of Nablus and other communities across the West Bank continues to cause economic hardship and prevents Palestinians from accessing hospitals and even healthcare. Palestine is under attack, and the mainstream media has been silent or merely echoes the talking points of Israeli military that censors all news. 

One of the most alarming pieces of news that I received last month was an email from Samia Khoury about the brutal arrest of her 16-year-old grandson, Shahi Khoury. On October 18, Israeli forces raided his home in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina. They raided his room at around 5:30 AM. The soldiers demanded he get dressed and come with them. When Shadi refused to undress in front of the soldiers, he was brutally beaten by four soldiers who dragged him barefoot and blindfolded out of his home, leaving a trail of blood through the house, to an Israeli police car.  According to his grandmother they were “not allowing his parents to see where the blood was coming from.” When Shadi’s parents attempted to intervene to protect their young son they were pushed away and Shadi’s father was tazed, according to the family.

Initially, Shadi was being held in the Maskybiya Detention Center or “Russian compound” in Jerusalem, known as a “slaughterhouse” among Palestinian detainees due to the harsh conditions that are inflicted on prisoners there. He has had very limited contact with his attorney and is not allowed to speak to his parents. He had one hearing there, but the verdict was not announced. He and some other children have been transferred further north to Damoun prison where they are somewhat safer. Shadi and the other children detained there have received beatings while incarcerated and Amnesty MENA (Middle East and North Africa) is reporting this as torture.  We still do not know what the charges are.

Shadi is a student at the Quaker Ramallah Friends School. His father, Suheil Khoury is the general director of Edward Said National Conservatory of Music and a prominent Palestinian cultural artist and composer. Suheil’s wife Rania is the head of the Yabous Cultural Center. His grandmother Samia Khoury is a co-founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center. The family courageously stands up for Palestinian human rights and against the occupation.

What happened to Shadi and the Khoury family that morning over two weeks ago is not unusual. It is the rule rather than the exception. According to the latest available statistics compiled by the recently banned Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), nearly 170 underage children were being similarly detained, with 22 being held in solitary confinement. Since the beginning of this year, more than 5,300 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli military, including 630 children.  Israel is the only country in the world to systematically prosecute children in military courts that have, by the way, a conviction rate of over 98 percent. As his grandmother Samia writes, Shadi is like many Palestinian children who “are being harassed, tortured, and imprisoned for no reason other than being a Palestinian, seeking to live in dignity and freedom in their own country.

Even though he is a minor, Shadi was interrogated without his parents or a lawyer being present, “a tactic that,” as Samia points out, “is used to terrorize children into submission and to use their own words to incriminate them.” Despite being a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, Israel has frequently been accused of violating the Convention’s provisions against torture and ill-treatment when trying to obtain “confessions” from Palestinian minors.

What you can do right now:

From United Methodists for Kairos Response: Speak up for 16-year-old Shadi Khoury and
ALL Palestinian children today
. Send a message to your members of congress here.

From Jewish Voice for Peace. Tell Congress: Support H.R. 2590 The Palestinian Children & Families Act Today! Congress can and should take up this issue with urgency. This legislation currently before Congress, prohibits the use of U.S. assistance for human rights abuses associated with the detention of Palestinian children. Congress should pass this legislation to demonstrate that U.S. taxpayer dollars must not be used to commit abuses against Palestinian children like Shadi Khoury. Send a message to your U.S. representative here.