Petition to Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wongand Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.
Shadi Khoury, a 16 year old Palestinian youth was dragged from his parents home in East Jerusalem by Israeli Occupation Forces in the early hours of the morning of Oct 18th 2022. There were no charges against him.
He along with 190 Palestinian children are being held as ‘security prisoners’ in Israeli military prisons, some have been held prisoner for six years or more. Shadi was initially held in the infamous detention and interrogation centre at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections.
Shadi is a case among so many Palestinian children that are being harassed, tortured and imprisoned for no reason other than being a Palestinian seeking to live in dignity and freedom in their own country.
Shadi Khoury’s grandmother describes what happened.
“In the early hours of 18th October 2022 the Israeli occupation forces, consisting of a troop of around 12 army and secret service soldiers, stormed my son’s house after breaking the gate at the entrance of the compound in which we all live, so as to arrest his younger son (my grandson) Shadi Khoury, a sixteen-year-old child, a student at the Quakers Friends School in Ramallah. They beat him until he was bleeding all over the room and along the path on the way out of the house dragging him barefoot and blindfolded, not allowing the parents to see where the blood was coming from. Shadi was taken to the interrogation section in the police headquarters called ‘the Russian compound’.
Shadi, a child,was “interrogated” without the presence of his parents or a lawyer, a tactic used systematically to terrorize children into submission, and ultimately using their own words to incriminate them. This Israeli State-sanctioned intimidation and persecution of children in the Palestinian Occupied Territory is common practice.
After Shadi’s military court session (held in Hebrew, and not translated into Arabic), he and other young prisoners were transferred to Ramleh prison, outside the occupied West Bank and then moved to Damoun near Haifa, where his family, residents of occupied East Jerusalem, cannot travel to. It is here that Shadi is awaiting another military court trial. During his last day in the Russian Compound he was beaten because he was singing.
As an 89-year-old grandmother who has lived through the Nakba, the 1967 war, the first and second intifadas, Samia Khoury asks,
“Until when will this grave injustice go on? Because you care for human rights, and the rights of children, I am asking you to take action now and contact your parliament or local MP, to put an end to these grave injustices especially against our children as well as our whole population living under a brutal military occupation. Shadi should not be sleeping in a prison cell. He is a child and should be home with his family.”
Letter to Foreign Minister, Penny Wong and Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese
Dear Prime Minister and Minister Wong,
I am writing to ask that you intervene on behalf of Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory being imprisoned for interrogation by the occupying power, Israel, without charge and often without the right of legal representation. I urge you, as our Foreign Minister, to condemn this State-sanctioned intimidation of children and human rights violation and make representations to the Israeli authorities, through the Israeli Ambassador in Canberra and Government Representative in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
A recent case of a 16 year old Palestinian boy, who is related to Australian citizens, highlights the current situation. In the middle of the night on 18 October 2022, around 12 troops from the Israeli Occupying Forces broke into the home of Shadi Khoury. Shadi was beaten and taken injured and bleeding to a police compound for interrogation, without the presence of his parents or a lawyer. At the time of writing this letter, he remains imprisoned and further beaten.
Sadly, Shadi’s is one case among many Palestinian children being harassed, tortured and imprisoned for no other reason than being Palestinian. Statistics documented by organisations Military Court Watch, Addameer, and Defence for Children International Palestine tell a disturbing story of systematic persecution of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Addameer documents that 190 Palestinian children are currently being held as ‘security prisoners’ in Israeli military prisons, to be trialled in a military court including without access to Arabic interpretation and translation. Military Court Watch identifies 68% of these children as being detained inside Israel, in violation of both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, both of which Australia is a State Party.
I am concerned at the escalation of human rights violations against Palestinian children and that the chances of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in this region are being further eroded.
The Australian Government values a good relationship with Israel and is in the position to influence the Israeli authorities to release Shadi Khoury and other child prisoners. The Australian Labor Government took a strong stance withdrawing its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and I urge the Labor Government to take a strong stance with these violations. Your predecessors, Bob Carr and Kevin Rudd, raised strong concerns with Israeli authorities over the plight of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. In 2012, DFAT officials met with Israel’s military prosecutors to convey those concerns directly.
I ask that the Australia Government provides a balanced and courageous international voice to hold Israel accountable. I ask that you make whatever interventions are possible, demonstrating that members of the Australian community and the Australian Government are deeply concerned about the violation of human rights involving Palestinian children such as Shadi, and that you ask for their immediate release.