Child Detention

If every time a child does something we detain them, we destroy their future, we make them basically dreamless young men. This is how Palestinian children who go through the system become.
— Yazan Meqbil

On December 19, 2017 Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi was arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier on her family's property. She was taken from her home in the middle of the night, interrogated without an adult present, and eventually signed a plea deal and was sentenced to eight months in prison. Ahed Tamimi became a symbol of Palestinian resistance, but she is only one out of hundreds of Palestinian children who face Israel's military court system every year. In this episode of Unsettled, we wanted to find out — On what grounds are children arrested? What actually happens to a child once they’ve been arrested? How does child detention impact both individuals and communities in the West Bank?

We spoke to Ahed's father Bassem Tamimi, Palestinian student and activist Yazan Meqbil, and attorney Brad Parker of Defense for Children International-Palestine. 

This episode of Unsettled was produced and edited by Emily Bell and Asaf Calderon. Music by Nat Rosenzweig and Monplaisir.


Bassem Tamimi is a Palestinian activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Since 2009, Tamimi has been one of the leaders of protests in the village against the seizure of the local spring by a nearby settlement. Tamimi spent three years in administrative detention in the 1990s. While he was imprisoned twice between 2011 and 2013, Amnesty International labeled him a prisoner of conscience and wrote that he was "detained solely for his role in organizing peaceful protests against the encroachment onto Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers." Bassem is married to Nariman Tamimi and has four children, including 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested in December 2017 and currently serves an 8-month sentence. 


Yazan Meqbil grew up in the West Bank town of Beit Ommar. Growing up, Meqbil became familiar with the ill-treatment of Palestinian children. In 2015, Meqbil joined the American Friends Service Committee and Defense for Children International-Palestine in filming the documentary Detaining Dreams. He has been on several speaking tours and engagements in the US since then advocating for the cause and raising awareness about Israel’s arrest, persecution, and mistreatment of an average of 700 Palestinian children every year. Meqbil is currently a rising senior studying Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Goshen College, in Goshen, Indiana.

DCIP Staff @headshot BParker 400x400.png

Brad Parker is a staff attorney and international advocacy officer at Defense for Children International - Palestine. He specializes in issues of juvenile justice and grave violations against children during armed conflict, and leads DCIP’s legal advocacy efforts on Palestinian children’s rights. Parker regularly writes and speaks on the situation of Palestinian children, particularly issues involving detention, ill-treatment and torture of child detainees within the Israeli military detention system, and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. He leads DCIP's US Program and is a co-leader of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign in the United States and Canada. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont and received his J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law.