Palestinian girl, 14, freed after six weeks spent in Israeli jail

A 14-year-old Palestinian girl, tried before an Israeli military court for hurling rocks at passing cars in the West Bank and sentenced to two months in prison, was released yesterday. Two weeks had been cut from her sentence.

Palestinian girl, 14, freed after six weeks spent in Israeli jail

Her case had gripped Palestinians who say her treatment demonstrated Israel’s excessive measures against stone-throwing youth.

Malak al-Khatib, arrested in December, is one of only a rare few female Palestinian minors who have ever faced arrest and sentencing by Israeli authorities.

“A 14-year-old girl won’t pose any threat to soldiers’ lives,” said her father, Ali al-Khatib after her arrest. “They are well equipped and well trained so what kind of threat could she have posed to them?”

The Israeli military said al-Khatib was charged with stone throwing, attempted stone throwing and possession of a knife and that under a plea bargain, she was sentenced to two months in prison and a €1,300 fine.

Out of more than 5,500 Palestinians held by Israel, about 150 are minors, the vast majority of them male, according to official figures, provided by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Malak al-Khatib is among a handful of female minors ever held by Israel. Palestinian officials say she is the youngest girl ever detained and sentenced by Israel — a claim Israeli officials and rights groups said they were unable to confirm.

Palestinians and rights groups criticise Israel for its response to rock throwing, either directed at its forces or civilians. Israel views rock-throwing as a dangerous tactic and at times a life-threatening attack, and claims it can be the first step toward militancy.

Palestinians see it as a legitimate way to resist Israel’s occupation. Israel was hit by a wave of riots by Palestinians in east Jerusalem last year, after the killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy by Jewish extremists in revenge for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens.

Up to 1,000 protesters were arrested, many for stone throwing. Police said many of those arrested were minors. Some hurled stones at security forces on their way to or from school.

Protests in the West Bank since then have been more subdued, but still occur frequently, with Palestinian protesters clashing with Israeli troops — incidents that often end in arrests.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said two weeks had been deducted from the sentence due to her age.

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