We must all act to end the detention of Palestinian children

Ann Gray
Ann Gray

In a powerful and at times emotional debate, Conference condemned the fact that Israel routinely imprisons Palestinian children as young as 12 in in clear breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It called on branches to lobby UK and devolved governments, write to their MPs and publicise with members to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop this and live up to their duties under the UN Convention.

Moving the composite including Aberdeenshire branch’s motion, Ann Gray told Conference her branch has long been concerned about human rights abuses of the Palestinian people by the Israeli State.

“We have long condemned the occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression of its people. And we support fully the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

“However, we are particularly outraged by the treatment of Palestinian children by Israel, and we condemn the detention of Palestinian children which is in direct contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which, believe it or not, Israel is a signatory.”

Ann told delegates: “Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children in military courts – between 500 and 700 each year.

“Since 2012, Israel has held an average of 204 Palestinian children in custody each month, according to data provided by the Israel Prison Service.”

To a hushed Conference, Anne said: “I am a mother and a grandmother. Can you imagine our 12 year olds being treated like that?

“Our children and grandchildren taken away by soldiers and held in prison, without us having any access to them?

“We would be incensed and distraught and we should be no less enraged that this is happening day in and day out to the children of Palestine.

“And why? Most face the charge of throwing stones – yes throwing stones – which carries a maximum sentence of 10 or 20 years depending upon the circumstances.

“Children are taken from their homes, often in the middle of the night as happened to Ahed; or are arrested at demonstrations, or checkpoints. Nowhere is safe for the children of Palestine.”

Ann asked us to imagine: “They arrest our children them put them in prison miles from where we live with walls and checkpoints separating us. It’s unbearable!

Ann spoke about the situation of Ahed Tamimi, held in detention since December for slapping a soldier who came into her garden.

“Expressing her anger at the shooting of her cousin. And for that she faces years of imprisonment,” said Ann.

“Yet so far the response from our government has been woeful.

“Well that’s just not good enough. We need to spur them into action. We need to insist that the rights we expect for our children, the rights that are accorded to Israeli children are also given to Palestinian children like Ahed Tamini and all the other Palestinian child prisoners.

“This is the Year of the Young Person in Scotland. As a country we need to stand up and unequivocally condemn Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children.”

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