Palestinian teen Abdul-Khalik Burnat, 18, the son of well-known activist Iyad Burnat, was sentenced to 19 months in Israeli military court on Sunday, 22 April. He and several friends had been charged with throwing stones and causing damage to the Israeli apartheid wall cutting through Palestinian land in the West Bank. 13 months of the sentence will be served and six months suspended over three years.
Abdul-Khalik was arrested at the age of 17; like most child prisoners of the Israeli occupation, he was accused of throwing stones. There are currently 350 Palestinian children held in Israeli occupation prisons. To some extent, this number understates the problem; many arrested Palestinian children go through lengthy court hearings and their sentencing hearings take place after they reach the age of 18. Palestinian children face the same types of military court hearings as adults with the same conviction rate of 99.74 percent; every year, 500 to 700 Palestinian children are brought before military courts.
As a senior in high school, Abdul-Khalik had been focused on completing his secondary education before he was seized by occupation forces; he was planning to apply to universities abroad for next year’s studies. Instead, his educational plans have been delayed by occupation forces and imprisonment.
He has already been held for 133 days, since 10 December, when he as his friends were seized by occupation forces. The boys were beaten and kicked by occupation forces after being seized at gunpoint as they returned home from a pizzeria. In addition, he was also ordered to pay 18,000 NIS ($5,100 USD) as “restitution” for the “damage” the teens allegedly caused by throwing stones at the Wall. In addition, he was ordered to a six-month suspended sentence that will persist for a three year period.
The Burnat family and Abdul-Khalik in particular have been repeatedly attacked by occupation forces. He was shot in the back of the head in January 2017 and then arrested two months later as his recovery continued. Their village of Bil’in has been targeted by colonial forces on an ongoing basis, including for violent attacks, arrests and repression. The village engages in weekly demonstrations that often include international activists in protest of the encroachment of the Apartheid Wall on the village’s land.