The parents of the youngest Palestinian prisoner in Israel, a 12-year-old girl, filed urgent requests for her immediate pardon or parole on Tuesday.
The pardon request was submitted to Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command, and the parole request to the head of the Israel Prison Service, Ofra Klinger.
The requests are part of a campaign by human rights activists and lawyers to bring about the girl’s immediate release, on the grounds that detaining someone so young violates both Israeli and international law. The campaigners also argue that no Israeli child that age would be jailed, so her imprisonment constitutes discrimination against Palestinians.
D. was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter and illegal possession of a knife by a military court on February 18.
According to the indictment, she set out to stab a Jew on February 9. At the entrance to the settlement of Karmei Tzur, she aroused the suspicion of a security guard, who ordered her to kneel. She did so. She also pulled out the knife she had hidden under her shirt, at the guard’s request. At no time did she show any sign of resisting.
She was ultimately convicted under a plea bargain and sentenced to four-and-a-half months in jail, beginning with her arrest on February 9. In addition, her parents were sentenced to an 8,000 shekel fine ($2,100) or eight months in jail.
The pardon request argued that D. probably wouldn’t have been sentenced to jail at all, had it not been for the plea bargain. It quoted the military court’s own ruling as saying that “imposing a prison sentence on a minor of such a young age isn’t at all easy.”
The request also quoted a social worker’s evaluation presented to the court, which said the girl suffered from loneliness, lack of parental attention and an untreated attention deficit disorder. When these issues were explained to the parents, they cooperated and agreed to seek treatment for her, according to the evaluation.
The request charged that contrary to statements by the Prison Service, D. is being held together with adults. And because she is defined as a security prisoner, her contact with her parents has been restricted and she is not getting the treatment the social worker said she needed.
Attorney Abeer Baker, who drafted the request, said that since entering jail almost two months ago, D. has been allowed no phone contact with her parents or any other relative and was permitted to see her mother for the first time only on March 28. During that visit, Baker added, the girl was barred from having any physical contact with her mother – an especially serious problem given the social worker’s evaluation of her needs.
“The excessive ease with which an innocent girl of 12 was sent to jail highlights the arbitrariness of the military justice system,” Baker said.
The Prison Service said it would consider the parole request. It said D. was being held in a juvenile ward and getting everything she was entitled to by law.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said that the pardon request was received by the IDF, and will be decided by the Central Command chief.
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