Jerusalem: An Israeli court sentenced three Palestinian teenagers to more than a decade in prison on Monday for stabbing Israelis. The sentences drew criticism from Palestinians and rights activists who said the youths should not be given such long jail terms.
Ahmed Manasra, 14, was sentenced to 12 years after having earlier been found guilty of the attempted murder of two Israelis, a 20-year-old and a 12-year-old boy.
Manasra was 13 at the time of the October 2015 attack in the Jewish settlement neighbourhood of Pisgat Zeev in annexed east Jerusalem.
The stabbings led to a propaganda war between Palestinians and Israelis, sparked by surveillance footage later released of the incident.
Manasra carried out the attack along with his 15-year-old cousin Hassan, who was shot dead by security forces. The two Israelis were seriously wounded.
In addition to the jail term, the Jerusalem district court ordered Manasra to pay 80,000 shekels ($21,000) in compensation to the adult victim and 100,000 shekels to the boy, the ruling said. His lawyer Lea Tsemel said she planned to appeal the sentence. The sentencing and trial were closed to journalists because Manasra is a minor. Prosecutors had requested 12 years.
“Although the accused was a minor, he tried to harm human life and there is no other option than to give him jail time,” prosecutor Yuval Keidar told journalists after the sentencing.
Manasra had earlier pleaded not guilty, saying he had not personally stabbed either of the victims and had only intended to frighten them. The teenager appeared calm as he entered and left the courtroom in east Jerusalem in handcuffs. His father refused to comment, asking journalists to leave him alone.
“Our defeat, of the legal team, is a very small defeat compared to the wide and deep defeat of both the Israeli society and the court,” said defence lawyer Tsemel. She said that “everyone talked about the full rehabilitation he is going through. Everyone talked about a kid who’s not dangerous at all.
“And despite this, the court approved the prosecution’s claim and gave him the full sentence, plus an unimaginable and not-possible fine.”
In a separate case, the court sentenced a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old to 11 years in prison for stabbing a Jew in Jerusalem’s Old City in January.
“International standards are clear that all efforts should be directed towards rehabilitation of the child,” said Sari Bashi of Human Rights Watch. “Such long sentences raise questions regarding Israel’s commitment to work towards rehabilitating the children.”