EPF PIN Decries Violent Arrest of 16-year-old Grandson of Sabeel Co-founder

Episcopal Peace Fellowship-Palestine Israel Network
Posted Oct 21, 2022

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN) decries the violent arrest of Shadi Suheil Khoury, an east Jerusalem teen who was pulled from his bed, blindfolded, beaten and bloodied, before being dragged away to the infamous al-Moskobiya prison.

According to his grandmother, Samia Khoury, a squad of twelve soldiers and secret service agents broke down the gate, stormed her son’s house, and arrested Shadi, a 16-year-old student at the Ramallah Friends (Quaker) School. “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 and not allowing [his] parents to see where the blood was coming from.”

Even though he is a minor, Shadi was interrogated outside the presence of his parents or a lawyer, “a tactic that”, as Samia Khoury points out, “is used to terrorize children into submission and to use their own words to incriminate them.” Despite being a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, Israel has frequently been accused of violating the Convention’s provisions on torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian minors in order to obtain confessions, or they are given confessions to sign in Hebrew, a language many do not speak. Most of these children are detained in facilities inside Israel, which hinders access by relatives who live in the occupied Palestinian Territories and are denied entry permits to Israel based on undisclosed security grounds.

The reason for Shadi’s arrest is not known. His parents have not been informed of the charges, and they may not learn why even after his court appearance, which is now rescheduled for Friday, October 21st. Palestinian children have frequently been arrested for something they supposedly did, said, or posted online. Omar Haramy of the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, an organization co-founded by Samia Khoury, said even Shadi may not know what he is accused of, but that he is now seen as a hero in the community.

Shadi Khoury’s case is not unique. According to the latest available statistics compiled by the recently banned Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) using official Israeli sources, nearly 170 underage children were being similarly detained, with 22 being held in solitary confinement. These numbers have likely risen in recent months. As his grandmother writes, Shadi is like many Palestinian children who “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.”

And unfortunately, it doesn’t stop with detention. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes that this year 26 children, and 6 in October alone, “have been killed during search-and-arrest operations, exchanges of fire, or in confrontations… following settler attacks or incursions into Palestinian villages”. According to DCI-P, 34 children have been killed during Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip through August of this year. This slaughter must end, and our Church must lead if our government will not.

In 2018, The Episcopal Church (TEC) adopted Resolution C038, Call for Guaranteed Basic Rights and Protection of Palestinian Children. Since that time TEC has issued several action alerts and the Presiding Bishop has encouraged us to support legislation calling for an end to the Israeli practice of child detention (currently, H.R. 2590). We appreciate these actions and call on the leaders of our Episcopal Church to again speak out, privately and publicly, on behalf of Shadi and the many other children currently being detained for extended periods of time without access to family or legal representation.

Shadi’s grandmother Samia asks her friends, “Until when will this grave injustice go on? Shadi should not be sleeping in a prison cell. He is a child and should be home with his family.” We agree. And so we call on all the members and friends of EPF PIN to write your own Senators and Representative using the template found in this link from the Friends of Sabeel North America. With it you can urge your members of Congress to make calls to the US State Department and to the Israeli Embassy, demanding the immediate release of Shadi Khoury, along with ALL children unlawfully kidnapped, interrogated, and violently detained by Israeli occupation forces.