Israeli forces detained more than 1,900 Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem in 2015, the majority of whom were minors, a prisoners’ rights group said on Sunday.
A spokesman for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, Riyad al-Ashqar, said in a statement that around two-thirds of those detained from the occupied city were minors, 65 of whom were put under house arrest.
Al-Ashqar slammed Israel’s use of house arrest on Palestinians under the age of 14 as an attempt to skirt Israeli law regarding imprisonment of minors that in effect “turns the child’s house itself to a prison and the family members to wardens.”
Israeli authorities launched a series of new measures in November in response to an increase in unrest in occupied East Jerusalem that had escalated in the months prior.
Included in the measures was a bill approved by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation that enables minors from 12 years of age to be given custodial sentences for committing “nationalistically-motivated” crimes.
Following the approval, prisoners’ rights group Addameer said that children convicted of such crimes would not actually serve the sentences until reaching the age of 14, as current criminal law in Israel prohibits custodial sentences against children under 14.
The group reported that the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — meanwhile changed an existing national insurance law to enable authorities to remove social benefits provided to children convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” offenses and “terrorist activities” while they served time in prison.
Israeli juvenile courts were also granted the ability to charge families of children convicted of such crimes fines of up to 10,000 shekels (US$2,580).
The Israeli government and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular came under heavy fire in July when the Knesset passed a law allowing stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.
– Read more: Group: Majority of Jerusalem Palestinians Detained in 2015 were Minors – MAAN