Jerusalem (TPS) – The Jerusalem District Court has sentenced a 14-year-old Jerusalemite to 12 years in prison for the October 2015 stabbing of an Israeli boy.
Ahmad Manasra was 13 when he and his 15-year-old cousin Hasan stabbed and critically wounded 13-year-old Naor Shalev, who was riding his bicycle in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of the capital, as well as another 21-year-old Israeli.
Shalev recovered and celebrated his Bar Mitzva two months later. Hasan Manasra was killed by police during the attack.
The attack made international headlines when Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of “executing” Manasra “in cold blood,” while he was in fact alive and being treated for serious wounds at an Israeli hospital. After photos emerged of the boy recovering at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted Abbas for “incitement.”
Over the month following Mansara’s attack, three more stabbing attacks occurred in Israel, including another one in Pisgat Ze’ev committed by two Palestinian youths aged 12 and 13. who stabbed a security guard on a light rail train.
Following the wave of attacks, Likud MK Anat Berko tabled a bill to revise sentencing guidelines to allow minors to be jailed beginning at age 12 for “nationalistically-motivated” crimes. For other crimes, the minimum age for a prison sentence remains 14.
The bill, dubbed the “Youth Bill,” was ratified by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and passed its second and third readings in August, with backing from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
“Youths, such as Ahmed Manasra, who engage in terror and seek the death of Jewish civilians will not be shown mercy by the law,” Shaked said at the time.
The move towards extended prison terms for minors is not limited to Israel. In the United States, many individual states sentence children as young as 13 to prison sentences, including without the possibility of parole. In addition, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based NGO committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, 365 children were executed in the United States before the Supreme Court declared death by execution to be unconstitutional for juveniles.
Other countries have also moved in recent years to sentence minors convicted of terror offenses. In Australia, 14-year-olds charged with terror crimes can now be tried as adults. And in October 2015 a British 15-year-old was sentenced to life in prison for planning an attack in Australia.