Youngest Female Palestinian Jailed by Israel Set to Be Released Sunday

Two-and-a-half months after she was jailed for attempting to stab Israelis, D.'s father says he's very excited to see his 12-year-old daughter free again.

The parents of the imprisoned 12-year-old girl with her picture.
Alex Levac

A 12-year-old Palestinian girl convicted of attempting to stab an Israeli is set to be released from prison on Sunday, two-and-a-half months after becoming the youngest female Palestinian ever incarcerated by Israel. 

D.'s father told Haaretz that she will be released around noon and taken to the Jabara checkpoint near Tul Karm. "We'll wait for her there, and we're very excited to see her," he said, noting that the governor of Tul Karm and the heads of the Palestinian Prisoners Club will also welcome his daughter.

D. was convicted in a plea bargain in February of attempted voluntary manslaughter and illegal possession of a knife by a military court. According to the indictment, she set out to stab a Jew, but was apprehended at the entrance to the settlement of Karmei Tzur, where a knife was found in her possession. 

According to her father, his wife visited D. about 10 days ago, and was looking forward to seeing her daughter not behind bars again. "We'll have a little party for her at the house and we'll help her, because she really needs love and a warm embrace now, after this difficult period," she said.

The decision to release D. two months before the end of her sentence was made some two weeks ago, following an official request by her parents and a public campaign for her release.

The girl's parents appealed her arrest on grounds that it violated Israeli and international legal norms, also arguing that the case was one of discrimination against Palestinians, as Israeli law bars the incarceration of minors younger than 14 for the country's own citizens.

Their appeal was reinforced by a public campaign, with over a thousand Israeli Jews and Arabs signing a petition calling for the girl's release. "It's no coincidence that Israeli law doesn't allow a prison sentence for minors under the age of 14. The gap between military law and Israeli law in this is intolerable, and in D.'s case could lead to irreversible damage," the petition said. 

The family's attorney Abir Bachar also argued that contrary to what the Israel Prison Service has said, the girl is being held in a prison alongside adult Palestinian prisoners. Since she has been classified as a security prisoner, the girl also faces many restrictions and has, for example, been denied any visits by a social worker.

Bachar said the girl met with her mother only on March 28, nearly two months after being jailed. The session lasted 45 minutes with no physical contact.

The attorney said that if it weren't for the plea bargain the girl may not have gone to prison at all.  

A welfare coordinator for the Civil Administration told the court that her impression is this is a lonely girl who received no attention from her parents, and who never received necessary treatment for her learning disorders. 

"The extraordinary light heartedness about sending a young girl of only 12 to prison shows the arbitrariness of the military legal system when it comes to Palestinian minors," Bachar told Haaretz.

"The military court could have rejected the plea bargain and instead ordered treatment for the girl's special needs.

"And may I add that had she been named Rachel, and came from a nearby settlement, the law would have kept her from being placed behind bars," Bachar said.