Israeli Military Detention—No Way to Treat a Child

Each year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. Help us end this.
Postcard showing armed soliders and detainees, with a child in the foreground. No Way to Treat a Child campaign postcard.
Defense for Children International – Palestine
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
Matthew 19.14

Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes around 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights. Join us in calling on the federal government to take steps to hold Israeli authorities accountable to their obligations under international law. From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter ill treatment and torture at the hands of Israeli forces. Three out of four experience physical violence during arrest or interrogation.

“Jesus himself was born in Palestine under Roman Occupation and, according to Matthew’s Gospel, escaped the slaughter of innocents by becoming a refugee in Egypt before returning to the land of his birth where he came of age," reads a motion to United Church of Christ Synod, June 2017. "To read the Gospels is to become aware of both the blessing and the vulnerability of children. It is to know that God’s love was revealed in a child and, in particular, a child vulnerable to injustice and violence.”

The Canadian government must use all available means to pressure the Israeli government to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children. By demanding Israeli authorities comply with international law, we are seeking to stop the abuse of Palestinian children and demanding justice for them.

Take Action

  1. Sign the petition urging Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland to prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children and hold Israeli authorities accountable for widespread and systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child detainees.
  2. Meet with your member of Parliament to ask them to raise this issue with Minister Freeland and ask that Canada prioritize the human rights of Palestinian children and hold Israeli authorities accountable for widespread and systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child detainees. Find your MP on the Government of Canada website
  3. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan and #NWTTAC.


The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge and end Israel's prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is a project of Defense for Children International – Palestine, a Mission & Service partner of The United Church of Canada. Palestinian children have the right to a safe and just future. United Church members are invited to ask the Canadian government to use all available means to pressure relevant Israeli authorities to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children. 

Palestinian children in the West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights. Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system whereas Palestinians live under military law. Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. No Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.

Defense for Children International – Palestine collected affidavits from 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015 that show three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent present during the interrogation or access to legal counsel. Israeli police also did not properly inform them of their rights in 84 percent of the cases.

Recent amendments to Israeli military law concerning children have had little to no impact on their treatment during the first 24 to 48 hours after an arrest, when most of the ill-treatment occurs at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police, and the security service.

The United Church and its global partners have a history of defending children’s rights.  In 1990, the United Church called on the Canadian government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The United Church of Canada works with others seeking peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners. Violent acts such as the killing of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, use of excessive force by Israeli police and army against protesters, extrajudicial killings, and collective punishment are obstacles to a just and lasting peace. The United Church of Canada has identified the occupation as a major contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence in the region, and is encouraging its members to take a range of actions including the No Way to Treat a Child Campaign to support the end of the occupation.

For more information on the issues and recommendations of the campaign, visit the campaign website.

For more information contact:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator, Public Witnesscneufeldt [at] united-church.ca416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078

Patti TalbotTeam Leader Church in Partnershipptalbot [at] united-church.ca416-231-7680 ext. 4018
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4018