The NLG and other human rights groups urge President Obama and administration to demand Israel cease the Abuse and Unlawful Detention of Palestinians
Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and nine other human rights organizations sent a letter to President Obama and White House officials asking them to demand Israel cease the practice of abuse and unlawful detention of Palestinians and conduct a full investigation into the severe beating and unlawful detention by Israeli police of U.S.-born, 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir. Despite the U.S. State Department announcing that it was “profoundly troubled by reports that [Tariq] was beaten,” the U.S. government failed to call for his release or conduct a full investigation. The letter brings to light not only frequent violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories, but underscores the implicit role of the United States enabling such abuses, including the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and more broadly, Israel’s ongoing military occupation of the Palestinian territories. The signatories also call for an end to the $3.1 billion military aid to Israel as long as these violations continue.
The Tampa, Florida resident of Palestinian descent, Tariq Abu Khdeir was on vacation in East Jerusalem, when Israeli police beat him unconscious, denied him medical treatment for five hours, and held him for several days without charge or trial. The beating was captured on video, airing on Palestinian television before going viral online; nevertheless, U.S. officials failed to act. "The failure of the US government and Tariq's elected representatives in Congress to take meaningful action on his behalf is shameful and showcases their desire to put their unconditional support for Israel above taking a stand to protect their own citizens," NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani said.
All eyes were on Tariq this weekend in Washington, D.C., as he shared his story with congressional staffers at a briefing sponsored by many of the letter’s signatories, including the NLG. Examining Israel’s impunity in injuring and killing civilians in occupied Palestine, the hearing’s panelists included Tariq and his mother Sahu Abu Khedir, their attorney Hassan Shibly of the Center of American-Islamic Relations, and NLG member Brad Parker of Defense for Children International – Palestine. As Parker stated, “Tariq’s case is horrific, but it is not exceptional,” stating that nearly three-quarters of all Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli military each year are subject to physical abuse.
On Saturday, Tariq also joined thousands of protesters at the White House, demanding an end to the attack on civilians in Gaza as well as U.S. military aid to Israel. This weekend’s actions reflect a shift in U.S. public opinion that has become increasingly critical of the Israeli occupation and the role of the U.S. in perpetuating human rights violations against Palestinian civilians.
To read the full letter and view list of signatories, click here.
- [Full video] Congressional briefing, “Is Israel complying with U.S. and international laws?” August 1, 2014.
- [Statement] NLG Urges US Government to Cease $3 Billion Annual Military Aid to Israel, July 18, 2014.