Palestinian children targeted for lengthy sentences: 13-year-old boys sentenced to 2 more years in prison, 17-year-old girl to 8.5 years

Two Palestinian 13-year-old child prisoners, Shadi Farrah and Ahmad al-Zaatari, were sentenced to two more years imprisonment on Wednesday, 4 January. The two children – both Palestinian Jerusalemites – have been imprisoned for one year already, since 30 December 2015.

However,  in this case, the one year they have already spent in detention will not be counted toward their sentence, which will reportedly be served in an Israeli juvenile detention facility. Thus, they will spend a total of three years in Israeli imprisonment, with the two-year sentence dating from 29 November 2016. The two were charged with attempted murder and possession of knives, even though they were walking in Jerusalem when they were stopped by Israeli occupation soldiers, who searched their bags and allegedly found a knife.

In general, Palestinian children under 14 are usually sentenced to six months maximum; at the age of 14, these children can be sentenced equally to adults. In recent months a number of Palestinian children have received extremely lengthy sentences, including Ahmad Manasrah, 14, sentenced to 12 years in prison, and Nurhan Awad, 16, sentenced to 13 years in Israeli prison. However, in this case, the boys’ families and lawyer reported that they were openly and heavily pressured to accept this plea agreeement or, as in the case of Manasrah, prosecutors would simply postpone the case until their 14th birthdays and pursue high sentences against the two.

In addition to Shadi and Ahmad, Jerusalemite child prisoner Marah Bakir, 17, was sentenced to 8.5 years in Israeli prison on 4 January, in addition to a 10,000 NIS fine (approximately $2600 USD) Imprisoned since 10 October 2015, Marah was shot 10 times by Israeli occupation forces and accused of possession of a knife and attempting to stab a soldier. She was strip searched and taken to Hadassah hospital and interrogated while severely injured and undressed in a hospital bed. Throughout her hospitalization, she was shackled hand and foot to her hospital bed. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported that guards abused her, including telling her to die, while another guard took a selfie with her against her will. In court on Wednesday, she appeared in a wheelchair with her legs cuffed to the chair.

In addition, child prisoner Malak Salman, 17, another Jerusalemite, had her hearing continued until 7 February. She has gone through 21 hearings since her imprisonment on 9 February 2016.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission reported on Wednesday that 505 Palestinian children had been held in Ofer prison in 2016 after being arrested and interrogated in detention and interrogation centers.  Among those, 10 children were ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial. There are currently around 300 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.