‘Terrorism ageless’: Israeli minister proposes sending pre-teens to jail

© Mohammed Salem
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wants to introduce a bill to punish terrorists under the age of 14, which would also see them serve jail time. The move comes after two Palestinians aged 12 and 13 stabbed a railway worker in Jerusalem in November.

If the legislation is passed, the courts would be able to sentence children under the age of 14 to prison sentences if they are convicted of murder or manslaughter. The bill has already won the approval of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which backed the move on Sunday. 

“Unfortunately, terrorism does not have an age, and today there are no punishments matching the cruel reality we face,” a spokesperson from Israel's Ministry of Justice told RT. 

"In order to produce a deterrent and to change the reality we must make some required changes," the spokesman continued. He added that the bill “gives minors the special protection they need, while giving a serious response to terrorists who think that the courts and justice will not reach them.”

The minister wants the legislation implemented into Israeli law after an incident in November in which two Palestinian cousins, aged 12 and 13, stabbed a Jerusalem Light Railway security guard. 

Knesset member Anat Berko (Likud) was also supportive of the move. Berko, who has a PhD in criminology and in February reasoned that the idea of Palestinian statehood is questionable because Arabic does not contain the letter ‘P’, tried to pass similar legislation last year.

“My research shows clearly that the central motive for acts of terrorism by minors is that they are prompted to do so by older people, who tell them Israel won’t put them in jail and will send them home in a short time,” she said, according to the Jerusalem Post. 

Shaked is a member of the hardline, right-wing, ultra-Zionist Jewish Home party. She is also the architect of some controversial legislation passed in Israel this year, including a law that radically toughens punishments for people who throw stones – a tactic that is predominantly used by Palestinian protesters. The bill prescribes a 10-year sentence if prosecutors are unable to prove harmful intent, and 20 years if it is clear that the stone-thrower desired to cause bodily harm. 

Shaked also insisted on a law allowing Israeli police troops to fire on Palestinian and other stone-throwers when civilian lives are deemed to be at risk, even if it’s not in self-defense. 

Another recently approved bill originally proposed by Shaked limits the release of Palestinians convicted of killing Israelis in future political deals or prisoner swaps. 

In December, two professors from Hebrew University accused Shaked, of facilitating arms sales and “genocide” in Africa, with one branding the right-wing minister a “neo-Nazi.” Shaked wasn’t amused and filed a police complaint against both.