US Representative McCollum condemns the arrest of Palestinian children and demands that the occupation army be held accountable

- US Congressman, Representative Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota who is leading congressional efforts to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations against Palestinians, condemned the arrest of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, while they were collecting "wild akoub" from land belonging to their town.

The Israeli human rights organization "B'Tselem" reported that the Israeli occupation army detained five Palestinians, between the ages of 8 and 12, in the West Bank, near "Hafat Ma'on" settlement, south of Hebron.

The group released video footage of the Israeli occupation soldiers carrying and wearing combat equipment pushing clearly terrified Palestinian children into military vehicles.

At one point, an older child tried to rescue another minor who was escorted by a soldier, but was pushed away by another officer.

McCollum, who is known for her principled stances in support of the rights of Palestinian children, said in a statement Thursday that "seeing images of heavily armed Israeli soldiers dealing roughly with these five Palestinian children and detaining them is extremely disturbing."

She added, "The use of Israeli soldiers to capture the families of young children who are said to be" gathering wild vegetables "in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is wrong."

Al-Quds directed an e-mail inquiry to the US State Department regarding the US government's position on this painful event. An official from the ministry responded by saying: “We heard the reports and saw the disturbing video clip that shows the Israeli authorities arresting a group of children in the West Bank. The age of the children and their treatment (by the Israeli army). "

"We are continuing to understand the problem better," the official added.

It is noteworthy that Congresswoman McCollum introduced in 2019 legislation preventing US aid to Israel from contributing to the detention of Palestinian children, but the bill did not receive any hearing for discussion, and it did not come out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"I intend to continue to work as hard as I can to ensure that American taxpayer money provided as military aid to Israel is not used in any way that violates the rights of any Palestinian, especially children," McCollum said.

Israel arrests hundreds of children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, annually, according to a recent report issued by B'Tselem, which indicated that 157 Palestinians under the age of 18 were under Israeli detention at the end of September 2020.

Last year, the United Nations called on Israel to release Palestinian minors detained amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"The best way to uphold the rights of children detained in the midst of a dangerous pandemic in any country is to release them from detention and stop admitting their entry to detention facilities," several UN officials said in a joint statement last May.

In late 2020, the Israeli occupation forces shot dead Ali Abu Alia, a 15-year-old Palestinian child, who was demonstrating against the occupation in the West Bank.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) also condemned the killing of Abu Alia, and highlighted the violations against Palestinian minors in the occupied territories, including "232 incidents of injury to Palestinian children."

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement at the end of December 2020 that “from January to September 2020, according to United Nations data so far, there were 232 incidents of Palestinian children injured, some of whom sustained long-term damage. ".

"UNICEF urges the Israeli authorities to fully respect, protect and fulfill the rights of all children and to refrain from using violence against children, in accordance with international law," the statement said.

The Biden administration, up to this point, has not shown any move to criticize the arbitrary behavior of the Israeli occupation, despite the passage of 55 days after President Joe Biden's term.

Biden refuses to return the US embassy to Tel Aviv, which strengthened the policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken criticized the International Criminal Court for its decision to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Palestine.

Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday (3/10), Blinken reiterated the administration's commitment to preserving Washington's alliance with Israel. He said, "We have an unwavering commitment to the security of Israel, and it begins with the president of the United States, who was a strong supporter of Israel, its security and the relationship with the United States."


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