Palestinian stone-throwers face at least three year sentence

Israel passes new legislation which sentences Palestinian stone-throwers to minimum sentence of three years, parents of convicted could also face punishment

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A general view shows Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset

Palestinians charged with throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, civilians or vehicles will be given a three year minimum sentence and a maximum sentence of 15 years of imprisonment.

The Israeli Knesset passed the new law on Monday regarding the country's civil law, adding that the parents of the convicted could also face punishment.

The new law also states that any individual found guilty of stone-throwing must serve at least one-fifth of the maximum sentence.

In addition, rocks have been added to a list of ‘harmful tools’ in the Israeli penal code.

The new legislation was passed late on Monday night by a vote of 51-17, which includes a number of provisions, among them one that permits the government to strip those accused of throwing stones of their state benefits.

The law will also enable Israel to cancel national health insurance and other social programmes for the parents of a detained minor.

Rima Awad, a member of the Campaign for Jerusalem, a Palestinian rights group, said that Israel is "collectively punishing" Palestinian Jerusalemites.

"The families of the accused are also being punished," Awad told Al Jazeera.

According to several rights groups, this move will further entrench Israeli civil law in occupied East Jerusalem, where an estimated 1.7 million Palestinians reside and carry Israeli citizenship.

The implementation of the new law comes as Palestinian protests against Israel's ongoing occupation increase across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip.

''One thing [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu never mentions is the 48-year military occupation of the West Bank and the growth of Jewish settlements — the realities most often cited as a root cause of despair by Palestinians,” the Washington Post’s William Booth and Ruth Eglash reported last month.

Since October 1, at least 73 Palestinians, all of whom were unarmed protesters, bystanders and accused attackers, have been killed by Israeli forces using live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

And nine Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in stabbing or shooting incidents in the same period.

The new legislation is one of a series of measures taken by Israeli authorities aimed to suppress the protests.

In addition, more than 1,600 Palestinians - almost 60 percent of them are minors - have been detained since the beginning of last month, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

A large number of those arrests are for allegedly throwing rocks. 

‘Double standard at play’

Ayed Abu Qtaish, advocacy director for Defence for Children International (DCI) - Palestine, said this newly passed law will have "an even more harmful effect" on Palestinian children, who are often "detained arbitrarily" or arrested without concrete evidence of accusations.

DCI-Palestine's statistics showed that at least 53 percent of Palestinian children living in East Jerusalem and were arrested by Israeli forces, are subjected to violence, while 86 percent are compelled into signing confessions in the Hebrew language, which is a language they do not speak.

"These laws affect children more than others because they are a vulnerable segment of the population," Abu Qtaish told Al Jazeera.

"Additionally, Palestinians in an occupied territory should not be included under Israel's civil law."

He also stressed that there is a "double standard at play", arguing that Israelis, including settlers and children, "throw rocks at Palestinians and other people" without facing any similar consequences.

Jamal Zahalka, a Knesset member from the Arab-majority Joint List electoral coalition, described the recently passed law as "fuel on the fire."

"There is no logic to punishing a father whose son threw a stone and didn't hit anything, while the father of a child who stabs his friend in school goes unpunished."

TRTWorld and agencies