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Israeli police holding 4 Palestinian youths over driver's death

Sept. 26, 2015 9:05 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2015 12:42 P.M.)
Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli forces during clashes near the West Bank town of Betunia on June 12, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police said Saturday that they were holding four Palestinians aged 16-19 who they accuse of causing an Israeli driver's death by throwing stones at his car earlier this month.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the four Palestinians, from the East Jerusalem village of Sur Baher, were detained on suspicion of "carrying out the attack over the Jewish new year."

Rosenfeld said: "They admitted carrying out the attack. They planned it ahead of time."

A police statement identified the youths as Muhammad Salah Muhammad Abu Kiff, Walid Fares Mustafa al-Atrash and Abed Mahmoud Abed Rabbo Dawiyat, while the identity of the fourth was under gag order.

Israeli police have said they believe the Israeli driver, 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich, lost control of his car after a stone was thrown at it on Sept. 13, during the Jewish new year holiday.

They have so far released no evidence, and shortly after the accident took place the Jerusalem's Magistrate Court issued a gag order on details of the incident.

During a visit to the accident site several days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed "war" on Palestinian stone-throwers.

Israel's security cabinet has since broadened the rules under which stone-throwers can be targeted by live fire and has announced a minimum four-year prison sentence for those found guilty of stone-throwing.

A statement from Netanyahu's office on Thursday said that the use of .22 caliber bullets would be allowed in occupied East Jerusalem in circumstances Israeli forces determine as life-threatening.

"We have decided to penalize more severely adult stone-throwers with a minimum sentence of four years in prison and also to authorize larger fines for minors and their parents," the statement said.

'A culture of hate'

The new regulations have already sparked fierce criticism from Palestinians and human rights groups.

On Saturday, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said that they represented "a culture of hate that dehumanizes a whole nation."

Israeli rights group B'Tselem has meanwhile warned that the approval of live fire against stone-throwers in occupied East Jerusalem will "exacerbate the cycle of violence with lethal results" rather than restore order in the city.

Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone-throwing every year, and B'Tselem has 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."

The arrest of four Palestinian youths over the Israeli driver's death is likely to recall five other Palestinians from the West Bank village of Hares who are currently facing life imprisonment after they were charged with attempted murder following an alleged stone-throwing incident.

Rights groups have contested the evidence behind those youths' arrest. Aged 16 and 17 at the time of their arrest, they marked two years behind bars in March.

The Israeli Knesset passed another law in July that allows for stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm may be proven and 10 years where it may not.

At the time the bill was passed, Palestinian 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?"
Dio / USA
If there were real proof of identity of the perpetrator(s) in a stone-throwing that caused injury or death, existing law would allow appropriate punishment. This is generally not the case. Instead, some local teens or young men are rounded up, tortured into confessing, 93% sentenced.
26/09/2015 21:47
4 million Muslims invade EUROPE for / FREE FOOD STAMS
and you think anyone cares about Paleistinians?
26/09/2015 22:13
Tobias / USA
-1- The "fierce criticism" should have start decades ago, and
It should have been regarding Palestinian encouragement
and tolerance of throwing stones at people and cars, and
-2- This new criticism will justly and equally be ignored !!
26/09/2015 22:33
Outlier / USA
Manslaughter at the very least and a hefty prison sentence for each if found guilty. Consequences.
27/09/2015 02:15
Colin Wright / USA
'...the approval of live fire against stone-throwers...' should put a real dent in the population of ultra-orthodox Jews and settlers.

Or have I missed something?
27/09/2015 08:28
Brian Cohen / Israel
Actually, Colin, shouldn't there be a law allowing the shooting of illegal occupation settlers on stolen native American lands? That would print a big bullseye on you, no? Or are you planning on going back to Europe where you came from before you stole an entire continent?
27/09/2015 12:44
inbound39 / New Zealand
At some point Israeli's will realise they have trapped themselves within their own walls. There is no safe place for Israeli's world wide......they are a scourge on humanity.
27/09/2015 13:43
ian / australia (1)
To Brian. No new ideas, I see. But what sense has that ever made? Let's say Colin is a bastard for ethnically cleansing Richmond and a hypocrite for criticising Israel. Let's even say he's mean to small animals and should go back to Europe. How is that a justification for Jews doing the same thing in Palestine?
29/09/2015 07:41
ian / australia (2)
(contd.) I've never got it. Don't you aspire to be better than a hypocritical, ethnic-cleansing, furry animal-hating bastard (like Colin)? And isn't your argument actually an admission that that's what you in occupied Gush Etzion are?
29/09/2015 07:42
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