Palestinian child sentenced to 12 years in Israeli prison

Ahmad Manasra, 14, is led from an Israeli court after being sentenced to 12 years in prison, in Jerusalem on 7 November.

Ammar Awad Reuters

Two Palestinians prisoners ended their hunger strikes on Sunday, after Israeli authorities yielded to their chief demand that female Palestinian prisoners held at Damon prison be transferred to HaSharon prison.

Samer Issawi and Munther Snawbar refused food for 11 days in solidarity with the female prisoners, who must endure grueling, days-long transfers to hearings at Israeli military courts.

According to the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, the other demands raised by Issawi and Snawbar, including improved medical care and access to the international charity Doctors Without Borders, are still being considered.

It takes three days for some of the 16 Palestinian women currently held at Damon, located in the far-north of present-day Israel, just to attend a hearing at Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank.

The Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners, an Israeli organization that produces a regular newsletter, chronicles the women’s journey in its October issue.

They are crowded onto vehicles without air conditioning or heating and shuttled to other prisons to pick up more women. They are not allowed to use the toilet or drink water between stops.

After driving all day, they still do not reach their destination and must spend the night at HaSharon prison. Between HaSharon and Ofer, the women must stop again at Ramle prison.

After their hearings at Ofer, they repeat the ordeal in reverse, spending the night again at HaSharon before continuing on to Damon. During the three days, they are deprived of adequate food, the Women’s Organization for Political Prisoners states.

According to the agreement announced by the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, all female prisoners must now be taken directly to courts, without stopping at Ramle on the way.

Issawi was was first released in the 2011 a prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Shortly after his release, Issawi was rearrested, and after sustaining a partial hunger strike for 266 days, released in December 2013.

He was again arrested in June 2014, and eventually ordered to serve the remainder of a 30-year prison sentence given to him in 2002.

His sister, lawyer Shireen Issawi, was arrested in March 2014, and charged with passing information from Palestinian prisoners to “hostile parties.” She is currently being held at Damon prison.

The living conditions for women in Damon have long been the subject of protest. In August, 28-year-old Amal al-Sada spoke to Al Jazeera English about the atrocious conditions there.

She reported that 18 women shared one room and one bathroom, until authorities finally built a second toilet. The cells have no heating and sometimes the women were given food that was undercooked.

Child sentenced

Over a year after he was first arrested, 14-year-old Ahmad Manasra was sentenced to 12 years in prison by an Israeli court on Monday.

Israeli prosecutors are believed to have waited until Ahmad turned 14 to file an indictment against him in order to maximize his punishment.

Ahmad was 13 when he was first arrested, and at the time Israeli law prohibited the imprisonment of children below the age of 14.

“The occupation deliberately kept the child Ahmad Manasra imprisoned inside a reform center until he reached the legal age for full sentencing under Israeli law,” said lawyer Jamil Saadeh.

“The court did not take into account what he suffered from the moment of his detention, being wounded, assaulted and cursed, treated inside the hospital as a threat and screamed at during interrogation by the officers, all of which is documented on video and condemns the occupation,” Saadeh added.

Ahmad was convicted in May on two counts of attempted murder for allegedly helping his 15-year-old cousin attack a teenager and a man in an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem in October 2015.

Ahmad’s cousin, Hasan, was immediately shot to death by Israeli police. Ahmad was run over by a car and critically injured.

An Israeli bystander recorded a video of people crowding around Ahmad shouting obscenities in Hebrew at the injured child.

A month after Ahmad’s arrest, a video showing his brutal interrogation was leaked to media.

Ahmad’s case prompted the Israeli justice ministry to propose legislation allowing jail time for children as young as 12 in so-called “terrorism” cases.

The Israeli parliament passed the bill in August.

Imad Barghouthi

Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghothi has been released from Israeli prison after serving six months for alleged “incitement” on social media.

The professor at al-Quds University in Abu Dis was sentenced last month.

During his trial, prosecutors reportedly entered into evidence the number of “likes” and “shares” his Facebook posts criticizing the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority received.

Before being charged with incitement, Israeli authorities had placed Barghouthi under administrative detention.

Following an international campaign against Barghouthi’s detention without charge or trial, Israel issued an indictment in its military court.

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It comes as something of a shock yet no surprise at all to read that under the Occupation the fact that people agree with you (in the form of Facebook "likes") constitutes proof of a crime. Still, it's good news that Dr. Barghothi has been released after six months of illegal detention. As for Ahmad Manasra's case, the savage injustice of his sentence is compounded by the low tactic of delaying proceedings until he became eligible for harsher treatment. He should not be in the hands of such a system of oppression, and neither should his country. We on the outside must continue to support the BDS methods and goals until this gangster regime is replaced by one that respects the rights of all.

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I fear even more for the Palestinian cause now that the ghastly Trump is to become the most powerful man on earth in just over two months time. More than ever we must support the BDS movement and not allow Israeli crimes to go unnoticed.

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This stuff is hard to read, especially when America is such a strong ally of Israel, while condemning countries like China, North Korea, Syria, Iraq and may others, for their Human Rights violations. What makes Israel immune to the same criticisms? As far as I have seen, they are no better that the aforementioned 'violaters'. I do not blame Obama for his shunning of the Israeli president and his regime! Just give the Palestinians their country, and end all of this!

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Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.