This letter resulted in the Representative initiating a State Department inquiry to the relevant State Department desk regarding the arrests of children in Hebron.
Madison, WI 53705-2413
April 2, 2013
Congressman Mark Pocan
10 East Doty Street
Madison, WI 53703
Dear Congressman Pocan,
We are writing as concerned constituents regarding a troubling incident that occurred on March 20, 2013 in the West Bank city of Hebron. According to members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and other international observers, Israeli soldiers arrested 27 young students, age seven to 15, while the children were en route to school.
The soldiers made the students walk to a military checkpoint then violently placed the children into military jeeps. Some of the children reported being injured. The soldiers drove them to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, brought 25 children inside and released two on a nearby road. They questioned the students without parents, a lawyer or teachers present and without permission from parents or other adults, which is a violation of international law.
Three of the children, one age 13 and two age 15, were held in confinement until March 28. Their families were required to pay $2000 New Israeli Shekels each in order to secure their release.
All of us share a concern for the well being of those living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Some of us have traveled to the Occupied Territories and have witnessed the daily hardships, traumas and humiliations experienced by those living under Israeli occupation. The Occupation is especially difficult for children, who often struggle to attain adequate nutrition, a proper education or many other aspects of a healthy and happy childhood that many Americans simply take for granted.
This incident is sadly illustrative of life under occupation for Palestinian children. Unfortunately, U.S. tax dollars and political capital help make experiences like these a reality for Palestinian children. Because our government continues to enable the Occupation, we believe that it is paramount that there be demands for accountability when incidents like this occur. We strongly urge you in your official capacity to demand that there be an independent investigation of this incident to determine if the Israeli military violated international law and if any sanctions or restitution to these children and their families are warranted.
We have enclosed two documents that provide important background information regarding this incident by Christian Peacemaker Teams and the issue of Israeli detention of Palestinian children by UNICEF. The CPT report contains citations for the violations of international law that possibly occurred during this incident.
We would greatly appreciate it if your office looked into this incident further and would provided us with any responses you receive if you decide to follow up on our request. Please feel free to contact Barb Olson in case you would like to further discuss or clarify this matter. Her contact information is below.
Thank you very much for you time regarding this important issue.
cc: Senator Tammy Baldwin
Senator Ron Johnson
Secretary of State John Kerry