Israel seeks to jail under 14s accused of terror-related offences

Middle East Monitor  /  July 3, 2023

Israeli lawmakers have approved advancing a bill to a preliminary vote that will allow for minors under the age of 14  who are convicted of “terrorist-related offences”, including murder or manslaughter, to be jailed

The bill, sponsored by Otzma Yehudit MK Yitzhak Kroizer, stipulates that “The severity with which we see terrorism and terrorist acts which exact a toll on life and property and the fact that these acts of terror are also carried out by minors requires a severe approach.”

According to Haaretz, it comes after a similar temporary order expired three years ago, which permitted Israeli authorities to imprison children over the age of 14 accused of murder.

The bill’s explanatory text states that it proposes to turn the un-extended temporary order into a permanent one, “while limiting it only to manslaughter offences committed in the course of acts of terror, but also expanding it in the sense that the court may sentence a minor under 14.”

The Parents Against Child Detention organization, which acts to protect the rights of Palestinian minors in the criminal justice system, slammed the bill as “a draconian and immoral bill that will cause severe harm to young children, and especially those in East Jerusalem. While the entire democratic world trends toward strengthening the rights of children, Israel goes backwards.”

It added: “Sentencing a 13-year-old to prison removes them from the proper emotional, developmental and pedagogical track, diverting them to the path of a ruined future, as it sentences them to a life of bouncing from one prison to the next, detachment from their families and a lack of a proper educational framework.”

Since the start of the year, Israeli occupation forces have killed 28 Palestinian children and detained dozens across the occupied territories.

The Palestinian Prisoners Centre for Studies has repeatedly warned that Palestinian children inside Israeli jails suffer mistreatment and torture.

The centre explained that most detained children were subjected to one or more forms of humiliation and physical and psychological torture through systematic methods that violate international norms and conventions on children’s rights.