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Israeli court postpones trials of 3 Palestinian children

Jan. 19, 2016 8:46 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 20, 2016 10:02 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli court on Tuesday postponed the trials of three Palestinian children charged with attempted murder, Palestinian sources told Ma'an.

Sources said the court announced that the trial of Ahmad Manasra, 13, had been postponed until Feb. 16, while the joint trial of Shadi Farah, 12, and Ahmad Zaatari, 12, was postponed until March 1.

The children, all from Jerusalem, are currently being held by Israeli authorities in a juvenile institution.

Israel's Jerusalem District Court indicted Manasra on charges of attempted murder on Oct. 30, following a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in occupied East Jerusalem on Oct. 12, which left two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, seriously injured.

During the attack, Manasra's 15-year-old cousin was shot dead on the scene by Israeli forces, while Manasra was hit by a car and seriously wounded.

On Nov. 26, Israel's Central Court announced it would hear witness testimonies for Manasra's case on Jan. 6.

Following November's announcement, the teen's lawyer, Tareq Barghouth, accused the prosecution of attempting to continuously postpone the case.

Some commentators have alleged that the Israeli courts are trying to delay the case until Ahmad turns 14 this month, at which time he would be old enough under Israeli law to be given a prison sentence.

Under Israeli law, minors under 14 who are charged with attempted murder can only be sentenced to time in a juvenile facility.

The 12-year-olds, Farah and Zaatari, are both being charged with attempted murder and were detained on Dec. 12 after Israeli forces found knives on the boys during a stop-and-search in Jerusalem.

The boys were indicted on murder charges and knife possession on Jan. 3, the boys' lawyer, Muhammad Mahmoud, said at the time.

If found guilty, because of the boys' age, both would be transferred to a children's facility to serve out their sentences, in accordance with Israeli law concerning the prosecution of minors.

In November, the Israeli parliament approved a bill that would amend current Israeli law, and allow Palestinian minors under 14 who are facing terrorism charges to be sentenced to time in prison, a Knesset press release said at the time.

If such a bill were to be passed into law, minors under 14 would reportedly be placed in a children's home until they turn 14, after which the child would be transferred to a mainstream security prison.

If passed, the law would only affect children who are residents of Israel, as Israeli military law already allows for children from the occupied West Bank and Gaza to be placed in security prisons from the age of 12.
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