Israel ramps up punishments for ‘stone throwers’

New Isreali law brings up to 20 years in prison for Palestinian stone throwers

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Israel's governing assembly, the Knesset, has amended the law to now apply tougher penalties for stone throwing at Israeli vehicles and roads, including sentences of up to 20 years prison.

A 20 year jail sentence for throwing rocks will given if the intent is to cause “bodily harm,” with 10 years in jail being the sentence if intent is not proven.

In similar cases, sentences of no more than three months in jail are usually given, when the offence does not result in serious injury. Israel hands down about 1,000 indictments a year for rock-throwing, according to the Knesset.

Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club - an organisation that advocates on behalf of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - has branded the newly amended law as racist and excessive.

"This law is hateful and contradicts the most basic rule that the punishment fit the offence," he said.

Israeli lawmakers voted 69 to 17 to increase the punishments late on Monday, approving legislation proposed after a wave of Palestinian protests last year in East Jerusalem. The law covers territory including East Jerusalem, but not the occupied West Bank, most of which is under the jurisdiction of the Israeli military.

"Tolerance toward terrorists ends today. A stone-thrower is a terrorist and only a fitting punishment can serve as a deterrent and just punishment," Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the far-right Jewish Home party said in a statement.

Shaked is well known for her resentment of and racism towards Palestinian natives in the illegally occupied territories, such as when she compared Palestinian children to snakes in a Facebook post. The new legislation was originally promoted by Shaked's predecessor, Tzipi Livni.

Stone-throwing has been a symbol of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation since the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifada in the 1980s. Confrontations between Palestinian youths and Israeli police routinely degenerate into violent clashes.

However, in 2011, three Israelis - including a baby and a girl - were killed in the occupied West Bank. Israeli media attributed their deaths to rocks being thrown at vehicles they were in.

Israel also frequently uses excessive force, including live fire, to disperse Palestinian demonstrators, killing hundreds every year.

In 2014, a Palestinian teenager was burned alive in a suspected revenge attack for the killing of three Israelis by members of Hamas.

TRTWorld and agencies