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Israeli court in Jerusalem sentences 16-year-old Palestinian girl to 6 years in prison

Feb. 5, 2017 12:48 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 6, 2017 2:40 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli court sentenced a teenage Palestinian girl from Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem to six years in prison on Sunday morning after she was charged with knife possession and planning a stab attack.

Hayat Shweiki told Ma'an that the Jerusalem magistrate court formally sentenced her daughter Manar Majdi Shweiki to six years in prison after the girl had already spent more than a year in detention, highlighting that the court postponed the sentencing twice since the beginning of 2017.

Her lawyer Mustafa Yahya said last week that the ruling was postponed because the court was awaiting a report regarding Shweiki's behavior over the course of her detention, though Yahya said at the time he already reached a plea bargain with the Israeli prosecution that determined the six-year sentence.

Since her detention in December last year, Shweiki has been moved between Israel's Ramla and HaSharon prisons.

Israeli police first detained her on Dec. 6, 2015 in the Wadi Hilweh area of the Silwan, claiming they found a knife in her bag after searching her belongings, though it was unclear what had prompted the search in the first place.

Ma'an reported at the time that Palestinian youths filmed the search and arrest of the girl on their phones, which were later confiscated by Israeli forces, and clashes subsequently broke out in the area, with one youth being injured from shrapnel after a stun grenade exploded nearby.

Two days later, Israeli authorities released Shweiki, but on Dec. 22, 2015, Israeli police detained her again on the streets of occupied East Jerusalem's Old City in the al-Sharaf neighborhood. It remained unclear what prompted forces to detain her the second time.

Her prison sentence is the latest in an Israeli crackdown on young Jerusalemite Palestinians, many of them women, who have been accused of involvement in attacks, while Israeli authorities have ordered lengthy prison sentences for Palestinians as young as 14 years old in both East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Despite “on paper” having more rights than Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank who are subject to a draconian military detention system, in practice, Jerusalem minors “do not enjoy their enshrined rights” under a discriminatory Israeli civilian court system, according to rights group Defense for Children International - Palestine.

Most recently on Tuesday, an Israeli military court sentenced 16-year-old Amal Jamal Qabha to 18 months in prison for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier last year.

Some of the harsher sentences to be handed down recently include a 35-year sentence to a 22-year-old Jerusalemite for allegedly assisting in a deadly stabbing attack, an eight-and-a-half-year sentence for an alleged stabbing attempt by a 17-year-old East Jerusalem girl, 16 years in prison and a $20,929 fine for a 19-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot and injured while allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli settler, while a Palestinian youth was sentenced to 18 years in prison for allegedly throwing a rock at an Israeli vehicle that caused the death of an Israeli -- representing the harshest sentence ever handed down for stone-throwing.

Last October, prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported that Israel was holding 64 female Palestinian prisoners and some 400 Palestinian minors.

Since a wave of political unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, leading to Israeli forces carrying out mass detention campaigns, the number of Palestinian women and girls detained by Israeli forces has risen sharply.

According to Addameer, among those detained between October 2015 and August 2016 were 13 underage girls, some of whom were wounded when Israeli forces detained them.

The group has also reported on the treatment of Palestinian women prisoners by Israeli prison authorities, stating that the majority of Palestinian women detainees were subjected to "psychological torture" and "ill-treatment" by Israeli authorities, including "various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment.”
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