Beth Miller Explains the Impact of the Israeli Military on Palestinian Youth

25 Oct
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Beth Miller, who is the U.S. Advocacy Officer at the Defense for Children International Palestine, spoke on Friday, Oct. 7, at the Christ Lutheran Church in Long Beach, on the impact of the Israeli military occupation on Palestinian children and youth in the West Bank to about 30 people.

People for Palestinian – Israeli Justice sponsored Miller.  The cosponsors were Christ Lutheran Church, Jewish Voice for Peace – LA, Long Beach Area Peace Network, United Methodists’ Holy Land Task Force, Peace and Justice Ministry Team of Grace First Presbyterian Church of Long Beach and Friends of Sabeel – Los Angeles and Orange County, according to a flyer distributed before the event.

Dennis Kortheuer, who is a Professor Emeritus from Cal State University Long Beach, introduced the audience to PPIJ and Miller.  Regarding PPIJ, Kortheur said that PPIJ had recently had its two year anniversary and that PPIJ’s mission is “to work for a just resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through education, public discussion, coalition building and action.

Miller, who holds a master’s in Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, said DCIP is an independent, local, Palestinian, child-rights organization, founded in 1991 and is based in Ramallah in the West Bank.  It started as a small group of volunteers to provide free, legal-aid services to Palestinian children the Israeli military arrested.  Now, besides providing the legal-aid services, DCIP monitors and documents all child-rights violations across the occupied Palestinian Territories.  It then uses the evidence gathered for its advocacy.

After describing DCIP and its work, Miller showed the 20-minute documentary, “Detaining Dreams,” which was produced in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee.  It tells the stories of four Palestinian-male youth the Israel military detained and then prosecuted through the military courts for throwing stones.  The documentary, through the four’s own words, shows how the Israeli military ill-treated and tortured these youth and the trauma the four suffered from the experience. The four ranged in age from 14 to 16.

After the documentary, Miller spoke about the legal framework under martial law on the West Bank, specifically Israeli Military Order 1651, in which about 700 Palestinian youth are prosecuted yearly.  It is under 1651, which criminalizes throwing stones.  She did admit many Palestinian youth do throw stones.  Another criminal act defined under the same law is insulting the honor of an Israeli soldier.

She said, “So effectively, if you are a Palestinian child living on the West Bank you can be arrested by an Israeli soldier pretty much at any time for any reason…. Three out of four of the children who arrested in this way are going to experience physical violence at some point….They are using the system to control the population …and we see that how children are treated.”

After her presentation and during the discussion, Miller said Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children in military courts.

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