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Knesset bill to jail minors on terror charges passes 1st vote

Nov. 25, 2015 7:04 P.M. (Updated: March 23, 2016 4:10 P.M.)
By: Charlie Hoyle

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow Palestinian minors under 14 who are facing terrorism charges to be sentenced to time in prison, a Knesset press release said.

The bill was approved in a preliminary vote with 64 in favor of the bill and 22 against.

If the bill becomes law, children under 14 would reportedly be placed in a children's home until they turn 14, after which the child would be transferred to a mainstream security prison.

If passed, the law would only affect children who are citizens of Israel, as Israeli military law already allows for children from the occupied West Bank and Gaza to be placed in security prisons from the age of 12.

The move is an amendment to the Youth Law, initiated and sponsored by Anat Berko, a far-right politician from the Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Before the vote took place, Berko reportedly said she believed the law was necessary as “today children are being used [in terror],” citing the Islamic State group as an example.

“There are 11-year-old Palestinian terrorists – kids who are recruited at the entrances to schools,” Berko said. “This law offers deterrence and prevention. This law will give greater security to the citizens of Israel, Jews and Arabs alike.”

Legislature Osama Saadi of the Arab Joint List slammed Berko for her remarks, according to the Knesset’s press release, which quoted him as criticizing Berko for focusing only on Palestinian children and ignoring other serious cases such as “paedophil(ia), drug dealing, murder” and other offenses that could be committed by Israeli youth.

“You aren’t asking to put [other young offenders] in prison, but when a Palestinian youngster throws a stone you want to put him in prison,” he said. “This is part of the continued incitement against the Palestinian public.”

The proposal comes amid an increase in violence during the past two months, with at least 93 Palestinians killed by Israelis since the start of October.

While Israel alleged many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases. At least 23 of those Palestinians killed have been minors.

Nineteen Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers during the same time period.
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