Palestinian girl Nurhan Awad, 16, was sentenced to 13 1/2 years in Israeli prison on Wednesday, 23 November, the latest in a series of Palestinian children who have been subject to extremely lengthy prison sentences. Nurhan, a Palestinian refugee from Qalandiya camp, has been imprisoned for one year, since 23 November 2015. She was also sentenced to a fine of 30,000 NIS (approximately $7000 USD).
Her cousin, Hadeel Awad, 14, was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces on the same day at close range as she lay already injured on the ground. Nurhan and Hadeel were accused of attempting to stab a man with scissors; in this case, a lightly-injured 70-year-old Palestinian man. The event was captured on video; Nurhan stood in place holding a pair of scissors. She was hit from behind by a chair and as she lay injured in the ground, she was shot again at close range. Nurhan was severely injured after taking two bullets in her chest. After her cousin was extrajudicially executed, Nurhan was imprisoned. Her case is strikingly similar to that of Ahmad Manasrah, 14, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison after his 15-year-old cousin, Hassan, was extrajudicially executed in a similar attack by Israeli forces.
Muawiya Alqam, 14, was sentenced to six and 1/2 years in Israeli prison; Munther Abu Mayalah, 15, and Mohammed Taha, 16, were sentenced to 11 years. Jerusalemite children, including Nurhan, Muawiya, Munther, and Mohammed, have been particularly subject to these extremely high sentences. In “security” cases, Palestinian children do not receive reduced sentences despite their juvenile ages. For any conviction on a charge that carries a maximum sentence exceeding six months, children 14 and older receive sentences equal to those of adults.
There are over 400 Palestinian children currently imprisoned in Israeli jails, including 13 Palestinian girls. Like Nurhan, they are held in HaSharon prison. Imprisoned Palestinian children have overwhelmingly reported being subject to harsh interrogations, inhumane treatment, sleep deprivation, kicking and beating, denial of access to lawyers and parents, and other forms of mistreatment amounting to torture. Over 57 Palestinian children, like Hadeel Awad, have been extrajudicially executed since October 2015.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates its denunciation of the lengthy sentences being systematically meted out against Palestinian children, particularly the 13 1/2 year sentence against Nurhan Awad. We urge the escalation of international solidarity actions and protests in response to the imprisonment and killing of Palestinian children and youth. We demand the immediate release of Nurhan Awad, Ahmad Manasrah, Muawiya Alqam, Munther Abu Mayalah, Mohammed Taha, and all of the over 400 Palestinian child prisoners in Israeli prisons. We further demand an immediate end to the international military aid, cooperation and assistance that funds these attacks on Palestinian children, and demand action to compel compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The sentencing of Nurhan Awad is part and parcel of a systematic targeting of Palestinian children for severe oppression as part of the Zionist colonial project in Palestine, in an attempt to stifle all forms of resistance and push Palestinian families out of their homeland. It is also part of the ongoing ethnic cleansing project of Nakba taking place in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine in an attempt to erase its Palestinian identity and presence. The road to freedom for Palestinian children is inextricable from the road to freedom for the land and the people of Palestine.