Israel’s continued harassment, torture and detention of Palestinian children is shameful and must end now, the chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine Manu Pineda has urged.

Pineda’s call comes on the day Palestinians mark the Nakba (catastrophe), the expulsion of the majority of the Palestinian population from their homeland, and the destruction of over 500 Palestinian towns and villages to make way for the establishment of the state of Israel. 

“The Palestinian Nakba has continued to this day through Israel’s daily and systematic efforts to fragment Palestinian land and with the siege of Gaza that has lasted for 13 years. Seventy-two years since the Nakba, over 6 million Palestinian refugees remain around the world, entitled to return home under UN General Assembly Resolution 194/48 but denied this right by Israel. The situation in Palestine as a whole is critical. The plight of Palestinian children in Israel’s jails is representative of this policy of persecution from cradle to grave. It is shocking that Israel has stepped up the jailing of children during the pandemic. I echo the United Nations call for the immediate release of all Palestinian children from Israeli jails.”

At the end of March, 194 Palestinian children were detained by the Israeli authorities in prisons and detention centres, the vast majority of whom have not been convicted of any offence.

“This year’s Nakba Day takes place under the threat of annexation by Israel’s new far-right coalition government. The annexation of up to a third of the occupied West Bank, with the support of the Trump administration and expected to take place by July, violates international law and cannot go unchallenged. We have seen the terrible consequences of annexation in Jerusalem and must resist all attempts for the takeover of Palestinian land and depriving Palestinians of their rights,” Pineda continued. 

“As a parliamentarian, I must also recall that Israel continues to extrajudicially hold 12 elected Palestinian parliamentarians, including the feminist activist and leader of the Palestinian left Khalida Jarrar. Despite this overt attack against democracy, the EU continues to put Israel on a pedestal, preventing any meaningful accountability for its crimes. We demand the release of all Palestinian prisoners.

“Statements of condemnation by the EU are not enough, we need accountability and action. The EU must become a genuine political player and facilitator in the Middle East peace process. We, therefore, call for the EU to suspend the Association Agreement with Israel and to enact a ban on the import of goods produced in Israel’s colonial settlements that rob Palestinians of their land and resources. The EU and member states must immediately and formally recognise the state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital, thus preserving the integrity of the 1967 borders, as a counter-measure to the Trump-Netanyahu far-right alliance. 

“Only by assuming its responsibility in the region, will the EU be effective in achieving a viable and just solution based on the principle of self-determination of the Palestinian people and respect for international law and UN resolutions,” Pineda concluded.

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