The Knesset’s Law and Justice Committee has sanctioned an amendment to the Israeli Penal Code, which renders convicted Palestinian stone-throwers liable for up to 20 year jail terms.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this decision proves that, “Israel is taking vigorous action against terrorists,” and that the Knesset is prepared to pass “stronger legislation soon,” the International Business Times reported.
“David killed Goliath, the strongest Philistine of all, with a stone, in other words, a stone can kill. This [stone-throwing] phenomenon, which endangers human life and sows fear among the public, must be aggressively eradicated,” said Nissan Slomiansky, the Law and Justice Committee chairman.
Members of the Joint Arab List expressed strong opposition to the bill pointing to its discriminatory and disproportionate nature and arguing that it is set to primarily target the Palestinian citizens of the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“There’s a military order that if soldiers come to an area where Jews are demonstrating and one of the demonstrators attacks a soldier, it’s forbidden to shoot him because he’s a Jew.
“Under the same circumstances when it’s an Arab they shoot to kill, they call it neutralising,” said Ahmad Tibi, Israeli Arab MKs for the Joint List.
Likewise, Hanin Zoabi criticised the outstanding asymmetry embedded in this new legislation.
“Imagine a soldier with a gun facing a teenager with a small stone, what symmetry is there? The oppressed is obligated to expel the oppressor,” said Zoabi during the Law and Justice Committee session on Monday.
According to the Knesset press release, the enacted amendment to the Penal Code allows Israeli courts to sentence stone-throwers without having to prove their intention to cause harm or damage, which, “makes it easier to punish those who throw stones at police patrol cars.”
“Justice was done. For years, terrorists avoided punishment and responsibility. Tolerance towards [them] ends today,” the Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked told the International Business Times, welcoming the Knesset’s decision.
Jamal Zahalka, MK for the Joint Arab List criticised the new bill saying, “There is no justice in this law.
“Imagine that we bring before a righteous judge the stone-throwers, and those who caused them to throw stones. Who will the judge send to prison? He who demolished the home, seized the land, killed the brother, or the boy who threw a stone?”
The one who demolishes the home gets a medal, but the boy whose anger is justified gets punished,” Zahalka added.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, settlers’ aggression against Palestinians in the West Bank has become a routine occurrence with 324 violent incidents registered in 2014. None of these cases resulted in a jail sentence for the perpetrator.
On December 31, Malak, a fourteen-year old Palestinian girl was arrested by Israeli soldiers when returning home from school. She spent three weeks in the administrative detention eventually facing charges for stone-throwing and illegal weapon [knife] possession.
Malak is one of the 8,000 Palestinian children that have been detained and interrogated by the Israeli military service since 2000. The charge levied against majority of them was stone-throwing, reported a Palestinian Human Rights Association, Addameer.
In January this year, the Israeli Court sentenced Malak to two months in prison coined by a 6,000 shekel fine. Her parents were barred from seeing her until after the court hearing, Al-Jazeerareported.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the Israeli security forces of severe mistreatment of Palestinian child detainees including beating, threatening or interrogating the children without the presence of a lawyer or a parent.