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Israel releases 14-year-old Palestinian girl after 3 months in prison

July 12, 2016 7:57 P.M. (Updated: July 16, 2016 2:45 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- After holding her for three months in prison, Israeli authorities released on Tuesday 14-year-old Palestinian Nuran Ahmad al-Balboul, following a successful appeal presented to an Israeli court for her early release.

Nuran’s mother and family members welcomed her at a checkpoint near the village of Beit Sira west of Ramallah, along with Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe, before they headed to the committee’s headquarters in al-Bireh.

The family then went back home in the Bethlehem-area village of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank.

Nuran was detained on April 13 at the 300 Checkpoint at the northern entrance to Bethlehem for allegedly carrying a knife in her schoolbag.

Lawyer Abeer Bakr said on Tuesday that the release came after the Israeli Central Court accepted an appeal presented by the committee for Nuran's early release.

The committee said in a statement that Nuran was assaulted by soldiers when they detained her, and adamantly refuted the claim that she had a knife in her possession, saying that she was in fact detained for having an argument with a female soldier while trying to enter Jerusalem with her aunt.

Her aunt also denied that Nuran had a knife at the time.

Relatives have described Nuran as bright with a strong personality and a tendency to be "sharp-tongued" with Israeli authorities.

Just two months after Nuran’s detention, her brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud were also detained and remained held by Israel as of Tuesday, leaving their mother alone throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The three are the children of Ahmad al-Balboul, a prominent leader in Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was shot dead along with three other Palestinians by undercover Israeli forces in March 2008.

According to Palestinians, Israel often detains family members of Palestinian political leaders in an extension of several policies that rights groups have deemed “collective punishment” aimed at disrupting family life for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The two Balboul brothers have since declared a hunger strike to protest their administrative detention, an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.

Nuran’s highly-anticipated release came just over two months after Israeli authorities released 12-year-old Dima al-Wawi from custody after she spent two-and-a-half months in Israeli prison for attempted manslaughter carried out at an illegal Israeli settlement.

She is believed to have been youngest female Palestinian to ever be incarcerated by Israel.

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

According to figures obtained by Haaretz from the Israel Prison Service, 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 had been among five Palestinian children and the only girl under the age of 14 held in 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 at least 12 have been imprisoned since.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, as of May there were 7,000 Palestinians being held by Israel, 715 of which were held in administrative detention.

Among the total prisoners, 70 were female and 414 were children, including 104 under the age of sixteen.

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