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Gaza children skip class, protest in support of convicted 14-year-old Ahmad Manasra

Nov. 8, 2016 3:04 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 8, 2016 11:00 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Tens of Palestinian children demonstrated at a sit-in on Tuesday in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the besieged Gaza Strip, in protest of the Monday sentencing of 14-year-old Ahmad Manasra to 12 years in Israeli prison.

The children skipped their classes in order to participate in the sit-in, which was organized by the Waed Captive and Liberators Society group, and demanded that human rights organizations act against the sentencing of Manasra.

Manasra was convicted of attempted murder for carrying out a stabbing attack on Oct. 12, 2015 that left two Israelis seriously injured. In addition, the court imposed a fine on his family of 180,000 shekels ($47,187).

“We left our classes today because they no longer have value amid our feelings of powerlessness to help Manasra,” Abd al-Karim, one of the children protesters, told Ma'an during the demonstration.

Abd al-Karim stressed to Ma’an that Manasra’s sentencing was a “disgrace” for everyone who was involved in his prosecution.

During the protest, Abd al-Karim directed a message to UNHCR, saying that “our childhood is lost. Until when are you going to remain silent?”

Meanwhile, former Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Hijawi also called upon the Palestinian Authority (PA) to make a political decision to send Israeli officials to the International Criminal Court (ICC), while also calling upon the PA to escalate the “intifada.”

Manasra and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan Khalid Manasra stabbed and critically wounded two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

During the attack, Hassan was shot dead at the scene by Israeli forces, while Ahmad was knocked over by a car and seriously wounded.

A video of Ahmad lying injured and bloody on the ground after being hit by the car was uploaded to social media and went viral. In the footage, an Israeli onlooker can clearly be heard saying: "Die, son of a wh***! Die!" while another tells the police officer to shoot him.

In video footage obtained by Ma'an a month after the attack, Israeli officials were captured on film hurling abuses at Manasra, then 13, during his interrogation.

The footage showed segments of the interrogation, as Israeli detectives yelled curses and verbally abused the child, while questioning him about the incident and his motives.

Manasra’s trial was postponed a number of times, which some commentators alleged was a conscious move to delay the case until he turned 14 in January, at which time he became old enough under Israeli law to be given a prison sentence.

The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a September report that at least 1,000 Palestinian minors between the ages of 11 and 18 had been detained by Israel since January, a number of whom reported being abused and tortured while in detention.

According to prisoners’ rights groups Addameer, a total of 340 Palestinian minors are currently being incarcerated by Israel.
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