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Israeli court sentences Palestinian boy with leukemia to 3 months in prison

Feb. 20, 2017 3:27 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 21, 2017 3:00 P.M.)
(File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Israeli military court at Ofer prison sentenced 15-year-old Ahmad al-Khadour to 91 days in prison and a 3,000-shekel fine (approximately $810), after the boy was accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

The sentencing came despite Ahmad's family's and rights groups' extreme concern regarding the boy's health due to his chronic illnesses -- including leukemia and epilepsy -- and frequent need for medication.

Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer Ahmad Safiya said in a statement on Monday that court’s judge gave al-Khadour a period of one year to pay the fine.

The judge also gave complete authority to Ofer prison director to release al-Khadour before the end of his sentence, “in accordance with the Israel Prison Service’s (IPS) procedures.”

Ahmad, who is from the town of Beituniya in the central occupied West Bank, has multiple illnesses and poor health. He has been suffering from leukemia for the past three years and also suffers from epilepsy, seizures, foot and hand injuries, intense dizziness, and muscle contractions in his fingers.

He was detained on Jan. 2 after he was accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers near the Ofer military checkpoint west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.

According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, soldiers violently assaulted Ahmad and beat him with the butt of their rifles when they detained the child.

Prisoners rights group Addameer said last month that the group “strongly condemns the continued detention of the chronically ill child, who appears to present no security threat to the area, and who requires proper and consistent medical treatment.”

Last week, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported that Ahmad’s medical condition had seriously deteriorated while being held in Ofer prison.

Lawyer from the committee Luay Ukka stressed that IPS authorities had not been providing adequate care for the child.

Rights groups have widely condemned Israel for its medical negligence of Palestinians in its prisons, which Addameer has called a "deliberate policy of neglect."

Right groups have also widely documented the abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions, which has long been the target of criticism by the international community.

A recent article published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz has confirmed the extent to which Shin Bet interrogators subject Palestinian suspects to torture.

Ofer detention center is one of the most common sites used by Israel for the interrogation of Palestinian children. Last October, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs reported that the “overwhelming majority” of Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Megiddo and Ofer prisons were tortured during their detention and interrogation.

Defense for Children International - Palestine has said their research showed that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces had endured physical violence during their arrest.

Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a laws in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli -- a legislation rights groups say was designed specifically to target Palestinians, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.

A Palestinian youth was sentenced to 18 years in prison last month for allegedly throwing a rock at an Israeli vehicle -- representing the harshest sentence ever handed down for stone throwing.

Palestinians have said that rock throwing is a natural reaction to frustrations caused by the nearly half-century Israeli military occupation, which has been characterized 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.

Addameer has reported that 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons, including 300 minors, as of January.
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