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 the occupation.”
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 2015.
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 of Muawiya 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.
Samidoun Palestinian 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.
How to Make Revenge Even Sweeter
Why does Israel need to imprison for 12 years a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who did not injure anyone?
Amira Hass Nov 16, 2016 4:51 AM
A., the teen who along with his cousin seriously wounded two in Pisgat Ze'ev, at his remand hearing, November 11, 2016.Emil Salman
The 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.
With 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
“Today!” 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?
The 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.
If they had seen the boy, they would have ruled thus:
“Before 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.
“The 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 Palestinians.”