Ministers Approve Harsher Punishments for Rock-throwers

Committee votes for minimum sentence of four years for throwing stones or firebombs, denial of social benefits to parents of youthful offenders.

Emil Salman

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday harsher punishments for people convicted of throwing rocks or using other objects with the intent of causing injury, amid ongoing violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

An amendment to a law regulating the sentencing of youthful offenders, submitted by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, stipulates a minimum sentence of four years for anyone convicted of throwing rocks or of trying to cause serious injury using a knife, rock, projectile or other dangerous weapon.

A provision imposing a minimum four-year sentence for throwing rocks or other objects at a vehicle, with intent to hurt passengers or people nearby, will be legislated as a three-year temporary order.

Another provision would withhold National Insurance Institute benefits from the parents of a minor who has been convicted of one of these offenses, if it has been determined that the offense was motivated by political beliefs or in connection with terrorist activity. Benefit payment such as child allowances, education stipends and disability support would not be paid for the duration of the minor’s time in prison after sentencing.

Judges are not obligated at present to impose custodial sentences on minors who have been convicted of these offenses. In addition to the minimum sentences, the amendments would make it possible to fine minors or their parents, charge them with court expenses and payment of compensation for victims of their actions.

“Battling terror requires multiple means and creative solutions. These laws will allow us to keep terrorists where they belong — behind bars, as well as hurting them in their pockets, their most sensitive spot. Parents will know that their children’s actions have consequences,” Shaked said.

“Israel’s government and its head are overreacting and pouring oil on the fire by proposing harsher sentencing of minors — Palestinian ones, obviously. This comes after relaxing the rules of engagement which created a Wild West atmosphere with executions of Arabs on the streets,” MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) said in response to the committee’s decisions.

This is the second attempt in three months to impose harsher sentences on stone throwers. In July the Knesset passed a law allowing for prison sentences of up to 10 years for anyone convicted of throwing rocks at a vehicle, without the need to prove intent to damage the vehicle or hurt its occupants.