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.
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 abuse, reports Defence for Children International Palestine.They are also routinely interrogated harshly without access to a parent or a lawyer.
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.