Conference urges an end to the detention of Palestinian children

National delegate conference hears emotive speeches on the mistreatment of Palestinian children

Josie Bird speaking at conference

Children as young as 12 are routinely taken from their homes at gunpoint then blindfolded, bound and shackled, UNISON’s national delegate conference heard in a passionate and sobering debate on the detention of Palestinian children.

Many UNISON members gave informed and moving speeches on the topic. “Each year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 500 to 700 children,” said one delegate.

“From the moment of arrest, Palestinian children encounter ill-treatment and a denial of their basic rights,” said another.

“I was 14 years old when this occupation first started, and I’m an older woman now. I think it’s important that we don’t only put pressure on the Israeli government, but also put pressure on the US government, on the British government that supports it, and on other governments that support it.”

Conference heard that Palestinian children can be interrogated without a lawyer or relative being present and with no visual recording, they can be put in solitary confinement and forced to sign confessions, often in Hebrew, a language they don’t understand.

Vice president Josie Bird (above) called for the UK government to take action now. Tony Phillips from the London fire authority pointed out that the treatment of Palestinian children contravenes the Geneva convention.

Paula Barker told conference that, “as the world media rightly shows outrage at the treatment of children in the USA, over 300 Palestinian children languish in Israeli prisons.”

Conference voted to:

  • continue to campaign for the British government to recognise the Palestinian state and fully support the implementation of UN resolution 2334 and other resolutions calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade of Gaza and supporting the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination;
  • support the European Trade Union Initiative for Justice for Palestine;
  • encourage branches to support and affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.