Israel Advances Bill Increasing Stone-throwers’ Sentences

Near the Qalandia checkpoint, West Bank. (Tamar Fleishman, PC)

An Israeli ministerial legal committee approved Sunday a bill that could see protesters who throw stones at moving vehicles jailed for up to 10 years.

The bill, which faces a series of parliament readings before coming into effect, would amend an existing law that allows stone-throwers to be jailed for 20 years, but only if it can be proven they intended to inflict harm.

The new version would enable 10 years imprisonment for “throwing stones or other objects at traveling vehicles in a manner that could endanger the passenger’s safety” or harm the vehicle, the bill read.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party, who presented the bill and heads the ministerial committee for legislation that approved it, noted that stone-throwers were currently receiving “very soft punishments compared to their crimes,” since intent was difficult to prove.

“The amendment to the law effectively places the responsibility on the stone-thrower and not the prosecutor,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Anyone who throws stones at cars or people has to assume someone will get hurt.”

The same amendment was passed by the Israeli cabinet in November under centrist then-justice minister Tzipi Livni but was not finalized by the time the parliament was dissolved ahead of the March 17 snap elections.

Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation routinely throw rocks at heavily armed security forces during clashes as one of the few means available to protest their subjugation.

Youths often throw stones at settler cars driving in the occupied West Bank, while it is also common for settlers themselves — protected by Israel’s army and armed — to target Palestinian vehicles with rocks.

Settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank is routine and goes unpunished by Israel, with 324 incidents of violence recorded in 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

(Ma’an and Agencies – www.maannews.net)

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