Israel jails Palestinian boy over stabbing attack

Ahmed Manasra, 14, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in a stabbing attack that wounded two Israelis.

Ahmed Manasra
Ahmed Manasra's 15-year-old cousin, who carried out the stabbings, was subsequently shot dead by an Israeli passer-by [Reuters]

An Israeli court has sentenced a 14-year-old Palestinian boy to 12 years in prison for his role in a stabbing attack that wounded two Israelis in October last year.

Ahmed Manasra, who was 13 at the time of the incident, was sentenced by Israel’s Jerusalem’s District Court on Monday for the attempted murder of two Israelis in an settlement north of Jerusalem. Both men have since recovered.

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Manasra had earlier pleaded not guilty, saying he had not personally stabbed either of the victims and had only intended to frighten them.

His 15-year-old cousin, Hassan Manasra, who carried out the stabbings, was shot dead by an Israeli passer-by, while Ahmed Manasra was severely beaten by an Israeli mob and hit by a car.

At the time, the incident caused widespread controversy because Palestinian authorities accused Israel of killing both attackers. Israel then scrambled to release footage of Manasra sitting up in a Jerusalem hospital bed.

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Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said the court ruling could have far-reaching implications for Palestinian youth.

“Every year, hundreds of Palestinian boys are arrested and charged for crimes, sometimes as small as stone throwing, but following this case anyone, even minors, found guilty of murder, manslaughter or attempted murder can get a prison sentence.”

In addition to the jail term, the court ordered Manasra to pay $50,000 in compensation to the victims, the ruling said. His lawyer, Lea Tsemel, said she planned to appeal the sentence.

Over the past year, Israeli troops and settlers have killed at least 226 Palestinians, including unarmed demonstrators, bystanders and alleged attackers, while 35 Israelis were killed in stabbing and shooting incidents.

Human rights groups have accused Israeli forces of unlawful killings and the use of lethal force in situations where non-lethal measures would have been appropriate.

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In other sentences handed down by the same court on Monday, a Palestinian woman who suffered severe burns when she tried to attack Israeli security officers at a West Bank checkpoint by blowing up a gas canister was sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Two other minors, aged 15 and 17, were handed 11-year sentences for attacking a group of Jewish worshippers at Damascus Gate, a central entrance for Palestinians to Jerusalem’s Old City and the scene of many attacks. One person was lightly hurt in that attack.

The court verdicts, delivered by the same three judges, laid out in detail personal issues and family strife afflicting the assailants, offering those conditions as part of the reason why they may have carried out the attacks.

Palestinian leaders say the assailants are acting out of desperation over the collapse in 2014 of peace talks, and the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied land that Palestinians seek for an independent state.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies