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Israeli court sentences Palestinian youth to 18 years in prison for deadly stone throwing

Jan. 24, 2017 8:21 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 25, 2017 4:13 P.M.)
Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli forces during clashes near the West Bank town of Beitunia on June 12, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani,File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian youth on Tuesday was sentenced to 18 years in an Israeli prison for manslaughter after allegedly throwing a rock at an Israeli vehicle that caused the death of an Israeli in 2015, representing the harshest sentence ever handed down for stone-throwing.

According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, the attorney’s office stated that Abed Mahmoud Abd al-Rabbo Dawiya, from the neighborhood of Sur Baher in occupied East Jerusalem, was convicted of manslaughter for throwing stones at 64-year-old Alexander Levlovich’s car, causing his death after he lost control of his vehicle.

“He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, a suspended sentence and a large fine for damages," the attorney’s office continued, adding that it was the longest sentence given for stone throwing in Israel’s history. The fine imposed was 100,000 shekels ($26,397).

Dawiya was initially detained with three other Palestinian youths, when Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that "They admitted carrying out the attack. They planned it ahead of time."

The police statement identified the other detained youths as Muhammad Salah Muhammad Abu Kiff, Walid Fares Mustafa al-Atrash, and another whose identity had been under a gag order at the time.

While Dawiya’s age was not certain, at the time of his detention with the three other Palestinian youths, they were reported to be between the ages of 16 and 19.

According to Ynet, Dawiya was considered the ‘head” of the group of Palestinian youths who had thrown stones at Levlovich’s vehicle.

Israel detains hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year, with Israeli rights group B'Tselem reporting 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."

Israeli authorities have also dramatically escalated their crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing rocks, with Israel passing a law in 2015 setting sentences up to 20 years in prison for stone throwing if intent to harm could be proven, and a minimum prison sentence of three years for throwing a stone at an Israeli.

Palestinians have claimed that rock throwing by teenagers is a natural reaction to frustrations caused by the nearly half-century Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been shaped by everyday forms of violence, such as nightly military raids into Palestinian communities, arbitrary detentions, home demolitions, and frequent killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces.

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