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Knesset passes law giving harsher punishments to stone-throwers

July 21, 2015 8:03 P.M. (Updated: July 22, 2015 4:03 P.M.)
AFP/Jaafar Ashtiye, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Knesset on Monday night passed into law an amendment enabling harsher punishments for stone-throwers in a move that sparked outcry from Palestinian MKs, a Knesset press release said.

As the law stood prior, those who throw stones at cars could be convicted and sentenced for up to 20 years with the state having to prove intent to cause either harm or damage.

Under the new law approved by the Knesset -- Israel's parliament -- the 20-year sentence still stands where intent can be proven, but the Israeli state will also be able to put someone behind bars for up to 10 years without proof of intent.

The 10-year sentence applies to those who throw "a stone or any other object at a vehicle in motion in a manner liable to endanger the passengers in the vehicle or people in the vicinity."

The new law also makes it easier to punish those who throw stones at police patrol cars.

Five-year sentences will now be possible where it can be proven there is "intent to interfere with the policeman’s performance of his duties or to prevent him from performing them."

Of the Knesset's 120 members, 69 voted in favor of the law, while only 17 members opposed it.

The bill was presented to the Knesset by MK Nissan Slomiansky, a member of far-right Naftali Bennet's Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party.

According to the statement, Slomiansky said: "David killed Goliath, the strongest Philistine of all, with a stone; in other words a stone can kill."

He alleged that a third of all arrests in Jerusalem dealt with "this dangerous phenomenon of throwing stones," and said that the practice "must be aggressively eradicated."

Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone-throwing every year, and Israeli rights group B'Tselem reported that from 2005 to 2010, "93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months."

Five Palestinian youths from the West Bank village of Hares are currently facing life imprisonment after being charged with attempted murder following an alleged stone-throwing incident.

The youths, 16 and 17 at the time of their arrest, marked two years behind bars in March.

'What symmetry is there?'

According to the Knesset statement, Palestinian MKs slammed the bill.

MK Jamal Zahalka said: "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. There is no justice in this law."

Another Palestinian MK Hanin Zoabi, said: "We are not talking about a law, we are talking about the occupation. If the law is meant to protect the weak, it is also meant to protect those victims who are killed every week by soldiers."

Earlier this month 17-year-old Muhammad Kasbah was shot dead in Qalandiya refugee camp after he threw a stone at an Israeli army jeep.

The Israeli commander responsible for his death claimed his life had been in danger, although video footage later confirmed witness reports that Kasbah was shot while running away.

"Imagine a soldier with a gun facing a teenager with a small stone, what symmetry is there?" Zoabi said.

According to the statement, the Knesset's deputy chairman MK Hilik Bar defended Israeli military, claiming: "Just as they protect me, they are protecting you, in this Middle Eastern Jungle."

Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation routinely throw rocks at heavily armed security forces during clashes as one of the few means available to protest their subjugation.

Youths often throw stones at settler cars driving in the occupied West Bank, while it is also common for settlers themselves -- both armed and protected by armed Israeli forces-- to target Palestinian vehicles with rocks.

Settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank is routine and goes unpunished by Israel, with 324 incidents of violence recorded in 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Comments
Joe Fattal / USA
Good. Now the stone-throwers can aim better.
21/07/2015 20:12
Tibi / Tubas
It doesn't seem that the new law is much harsher than the old law, but
It should be, since the frequency of death by thrown stones has greatly increased.
21/07/2015 21:09
Tobias / USA
This new "Harsher Law" Is Still Too Little And Too Late, where
- Israel should never have tolerated such violence, and
- Palestinians should never have expected to throw stones,
with such trivial consequences for even one year, rather than 20.
22/07/2015 01:27
Jon / USA
Throwing stones is a capital offense as soldiers shoot those who throw stones these days. One can only hope that the law is applied to Israeli stone throwers as well. I want to see those Hebron settlers jailed for throwing stones at Palestinians.
22/07/2015 16:27
Carlos / usa
Jon/USA is right. The Palestinians never make it to court because they are murdered by the IDF or thier peons.
22/07/2015 18:25
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