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Israel releases 12-year-old Palestinian charged with attempted manslaughter

April 24, 2016 3:54 P.M. (Updated: April 28, 2016 10:44 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- The Israeli authorities on Sunday released 12-year-old Dima al-Wawi to her family after she spent two-and-a-half months in Israeli prison for attempted manslaughter carried out at an illegal Israeli settlement.

Believed to have been the youngest female Palestinian to be incarcerated by Israel, al-Wawi's parent filed requests for her release and Israel agreed to release the child two months early, alongside an 8,000 shekel ($2,100) plea deal payment.

She was released at the Israeli military checkpoint Jubara in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, welcomed by the district's governor Issam Abu Bakr and head of the Palestinian Authority’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe, among others.

“The detention of children is a crime against humanity,” the governor said, adding that "the Israeli occupation violates children's’ dignity and their right to live.”

Qaraqe also addressed those welcoming al-Wawi saying that Israel “practices the ugliest means of suppression and torture against Palestinian children.”

Head of Palestinian Prisoners’ Society in Hebron Amjad al-Najjar said that a press conference will be held in al-Wawi’s home in the village of Halhul in Hebron once she arrives.

Al-Wawi was detained on Feb. 9 and sentenced in an Israeli military court on Feb. 18 for attempted voluntary manslaughter and the illegal possession of a knife, after she allegedly went to the illegal Karmei Tzur settlement with the intention of stabbing settlers.

Her detention was caught on tape and broadcast by Israeli Channel 1, where the girl is recorded admitting her intention to carry out a stabbing attack.

Earlier this month, following the requests filed by her parents, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) agreed to the early release of Dima al-Wawi, initially sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison for attempted manslaughter.

The 12-year-old's parents, backed by a public campaign, sought to end their daughters' detention, which they said violated both Israeli and international law regarding the detention of children.

While Israeli law does not allow prison sentences for children under the age of 14, Israeli military law -- which applies to Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank -- allows for children as young as 12 to be charged for "nationalistic-motivated" violent offenses.

Al-Wawi was reportedly held in prison alongside adult prisoners and denied access to a social worker during her detention.

Violations against Palestinian children in Israel's military court system are widely documented.

According to figures obtained by Haaretz from IPS, the number of Palestinian minors imprisoned for security-related offenses rose from 170 last September to 438 in February, following a wave of unrest that has spread across the occupied Palestinian territory since October.

Al-Wawi was among five Palestinian children and the only girl under the age of 14 held Israeli prisons during this period, while no Palestinians under 14 were being held prior to September, the report added.

Only one Palestinian girl had been held in Israeli custody before September, while 12 have been imprisoned since, including al-Wawi.

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