Only in Israel could the legal system wait a year so that a 13 year old child
officially can turn 14 and become old enough to receive a long prison sentence. Indeed it would be unheard of in any other
country that calls itself civilised. It
is also unheard of in Israel for it to happen to a Jewish child.
However Ahmad Manasrah is not Jewish but a Palestinian. The law was changed specifically to allow him to be sentenced to a long term of imprisonment. He was found guilty of participating in the
stabbing of an Israeli. The reasons for his actions are
not hard to find. He lives under a
brutal occupation. His cousin was shot
dead. He himself is lucky to be alive
because he was left bleeding on a sidewalk.
Medical help for him was prevented initially by Israeli police. He was subject to savage taunts of ‘let him
die’ by Israeli passers by, as the above video shows in all its graphic horror.
During what was called the ‘knife intifada’ Uri Rezken, a Jewish supermarket worker was stabbed by another Jew, Shlomo Pinto, whilst stacking shelves. He had been mistaken for an Arab. Contrast his treatment by the judicial system. Although he was charged with attempted murder it is certain that he didn’t receive 12 years imprisonment. He wasn’t subject to the ordeal of a 13 year old Palestinian child.
Instead the Guardian reports that ‘He was granted anonymity by a magistrates’ court in Haifa since he may now become a target of a vigilante attack. The court also agreed to his lawyer’s request for a psychological examination to see if he was fit to stand trial.’
Palestinians are not seen as human beings so the question of whether they are fit to stand trial does not arise. Nor was Ahmad given anonymity, again for the same racist reasons.
Palestinian lawyer Jamil Saadeh noted upon Ahmad’s conviction in May
that “the occupation deliberately kept the child Ahmad Manasrah imprisoned
inside a reform center until he reached the legal age for full sentencing under
Israeli law, which is the age of 14 years…The court did not take into account
what he suffered from the moment of his detention, being wounded, assaulted and
cursed, treated inside the hospital as a threat, and screamed at during
interrogation by the officers, all of which is documented on video and condemns
Ahmad, 14, was accused of participating in a stabbing operation against
Israeli settlers in the east Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev last year,
when he was 13 years old. Ahmad was with his 15-year-old cousin, Hassan
Manasrah, at the time, on 12 October 2015. Hassan was shot by settlers and
killed on the street, while Ahmad was run over by settlers and seriously
injured. Video of settlers screaming and cursing at the bleeding Ahmad and
yelling that he should die was widely circulated via social media. Two settlers
were injured in the incident, while Ahmad was critically injured and Hassan’s
life was taken. Hassan is one of 57
Palestinian children who have been killed by Israeli forces since 5 October
Manasrah was convicted in Israeli courts in May and sentenced today to 12 years
imprisonment. In the Israeli courts in “security” cases, Palestinian youth do
not receive reduced sentencing despite their juvenile ages. Instead, for every
conviction on any charge that carries a maximum sentence of greater than six
months, children 14 and up are sentenced identically to adults over 18. Such
charges include throwing
stones, membership in a prohibited organization or incitement for social
media postings. Palestinian children are also held
without charge or trial under administrative detention.
The pursuit of extremely lengthy sentences against Palestinian children is a
growing trend in Israeli military and other courts, as illustrated by the cases
Alqam, 14, sentenced to six and one-half years and the pending case of Nurhan
Awad, 17, against whom a 15-year sentence is sought. Nurhan’s case is
strikingly similar to Ahmad’s; she was with her cousin, Hadeel, who was shot
and killed by Israeli settlers while Nurhan was severely injured.
Ahmad’s interrogation was also videotaped, where he was pressured and shouted
at by multiple interrogators as he stated he did not remember the incident.
Ahmad is one of nearly 400 Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons.
Palestinian children are routinely subject to torture and abuse under
interrogation, solitary confinement during interrogation, beating and kicking
by occupation military personnel, threats of sexual assault and other forms of
Defence for Children International Palestine.They are also routinely
interrogated harshly without access to a parent or a lawyer.
Prisoner Solidarity Network condemns the sentencing of Ahmad Manasrah and
demands the immediate release of Ahmad and all imprisoned Palestinian children.
We further call for international action to compel the Israeli state to
respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and end international
military aid and assistance that funds the imprisonment and torture of
Palestinian children. The imprisonment, oppression, and killing of Palestinian
children like Ahmad and Hassan Manasrah by the Israeli occupation is part and
parcel of the Israeli colonial project in Palestine, and the only true freedom
for Palestinian children will be achieved through the freedom of the
Palestinian people and Palestinian land.
Also see this powerful article in Ha’aretz by Amira Hass, one of the few decent journalists in Israel.
childish expression on his face, which the sadness has turned adult, is
known to every Palestinian. In the Israeli media, only the first letter
of his name, A., is allowed to be published. That, and the fact that
his trial was held behind closed doors was the sum total of proper
treatment of a boy who was 13 years and 9 months old when he allegedly
committed the crimes of which he was convicted.
all the rest – his arrest after the mob attack against him and his
injury, the brutal interrogation, the extreme indictment, the verdict
and the sentence – the legal system treated him precisely in the spirit
the Israeli public demands: vengeance, vengeance, vengeance.
judges, Yoram Noam, Rivka Friedman-Feldman and Moshe Bar-Am, convicted
him of two attempted murders, although he did not stab anyone. From the
beginning A. told his interrogators and the judges that he and his
cousin, Hassan Manasra, went out about a year ago to Pisgat Ze’ev to
scare Jews with knives they were holding (because of how the Israeli
regime harms the Palestinians), maybe to injure someone, but not to
murder anyone. He was convicted because 15-year-old Manasra (the Border
Police team could have arrested him but they executed him, as is the
fashion around here) stabbed a young man and a boy.
judges did not attribute importance to A.’s testimony that from the
start he and Manasra had decided not to hurt women, children or old
people, they intentionally did not try to hurt an old man whom they came
across on their way. The judges discounted A.’s words, that he tried to
stop his cousin from hurting the boy. The judges belittled the fact
that A. could have immediately confessed to attempted murder so he would
be sentenced before he reached 14 (and then would not be sent to
prison). He simply did not agree to admit to something that he did not
intend to do.
parole officer service, who praised A.’s rehabilitation process,
recommended to the court to make do with parole and keeping him in a
closed residential facility until the age of 18. But
the judges imposed a sentence of 12 years in prison on the 14-year-old
boy who had not injured anyone. Neither did they heed the request to at
least place A. in a closed residential facility until the age of 18.
Judge Noam decreed on the day of sentencing last week. The boy must be
taken immediately to prison (Megiddo). Vengeance is sweet and to sweeten
it more the judges ordered the minor to pay compensation of 180,000
shekels ($46,870) to the injured parties. Let the family go completely
broke, why not?
judges could have taken into consideration other verdicts, which state
that it is impossible to examine the acts of children by the same
criteria as those of adults. They could have drawn inspiration from
judges who imposed sentences of 24 months and 54 months, respectively,
in a closed residential facility on two minors who murdered an old man
who refused to give them a cigarette. But Noam and his colleagues
preferred to see the “wave of terror” and “nationalistic background,”
not the boy.
us is another boy, who from the moment of his birth in Jerusalem has
lived the intentional, methodical discrimination in favor of Jewish
children his age: in housing, schooling, employment opportunities,
infrastructure, freedom of movement and choice, the right to a
collective identity. Before us is another boy who has, unfortunately, on
a daily basis, experienced police brutality, the contempt of the
municipality and the evil of the system. Another boy who is confused by
the weakness of the adults in the face of all this evil, and the
childish tendency to imitate pushed him into a foolish and dangerous
act, which his parents opposed, and that he himself regrets today. We
will send him to a closed residential facility for a few years, to
think, understand and be rehabilitated.
change of general circumstances does not depend solely on us, but it
has already been proven that executions, house demolitions and
disproportionate prison sentences and fines are not deterrents. On the
contrary. They convey a message to other Palestinians, that the Jews
hate and persecute and oppress and expel them only because they are