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Netanyahu approves mandatory prison for stone-throwers

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Amid clashes and killings that have blazed into a second week, Israel’s cabinet unanimously approved mandatory minimum sentences for Jerusalemites and Israeli citizens who throw stones or launch heftier projectiles such as firebombs and fireworks.

Minors accused of stone-throwing could also face mandatory minimum prison terms, and their parents will be required to pay punitive fines, although Palestinian families say these policies de facto have long been in place.

“We are doing this as an emergency measure and will consider the extent of its implementation; if need be, we will make the law more severe,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned during the meeting. His Cabinet signed off on the new security regulations, which follow Israel’s green light two weeks ago to the use of live-fire against stone-throwers in circumstances where there is no threat to life.

While the prison penalties were set into action today, a spokesperson from the prime minister’s office told me that the lengths of prison sentences would be determined at a later point.

Netanyahu first proposed the measures days before the current wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians and before fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians took place throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank. While Palestinian protesters are largely unarmed, scores have taken to pelting Israeli forces with rocks. Human Rights Watch has also reported that protesters with firearms fired on Israeli authorities last Tuesday at a demonstration outside of Ramallah. 

Since the beginning of October, Israeli forces have killed more than 25 Palestinians and Palestinians killed eight Israelis in attacks.

In late September Netanyahu said he would seek a minimum of 4 years with a maximum of 20 years in prison for adults caught stone-throwing, as well as fines and possible jail time for minors.

Netanyahu has said the prison terms are forms of deterrence against future assaults on Israelis, but Palestinians say it is an escalation that will fuel more upheaval. 

Israeli police arrest Mohammed Khatib, 12, near Damascus Gate, 2015. (Photo: Rami Khatib)

Israeli police arrest Mohammed Khatib, 12, near Damascus Gate, 2015. (Photo: Rami Khatib)

“This decision was made to oppress the Palestinian people,” said Rami Khatib, an East Jerusalem resident from the Shuafat neighborhood and father of four children under the age of 16. “We are already living with this situation and so we are not surprised to see something like this pass.”

Earlier this year Khatib’s son Mohammed Khatib, 12, was arrested near Damascus Gate on charges of stone-throwing. Khatib is a photographer and captured the event on camera.

Mohammed spent 12 hours in jail.

“They beat him and he couldn’t use a toilet, or eat anything,” Khatib said of his son’s time incarcerated.

Netanyahu also announced today increased policing across Jerusalem and Israel. Two thousand reservists will be stationed in Jerusalem, along with 16 border police units dispersed throughout the country. Security forces will now work in extended stretches, increased from 12 to 14 hours.

The Israeli government is also threatening actions to penalize the Islamic movement in Israel, and penalize politicians who are accused of inciting Palestinians to clash with Israeli forces. The prime minister said he is mulling legal action against member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi for “wild and deceitful incitement [that] is a clear call to violence.” He told the cabinet, “This is serious and I will not ignore it.”

Protesters–not politicians–say an Intifada has started

For weeks Netanyahu claimed the northern Israel branch of the Islamic Movement cajoled Palestinian youth to hide out inside of the Muslim holy site of al-Asqa Mosque with rocks and pipe bombs and then clash with Israeli forces. Yet Palestinians have been participating in demonstrations by the thousands and many have said that no political party or leader has told them to do so. They cite Israel’s heavy hand in the occupied territories as what brought them to the streets. 

“My brother is a martyr, I was in jail, my father was in jail for more than 15 years—he was freed six months ago,” said Mohammed Mubarak, 22, from Jalazone refugee camp outside of Ramallah. Mubarak spent the last week attending protests because, he said, he hopes to see a change. Mubarak said he does not think political divisions run deep in the Palestinian population, and that feuding political parties lack the ability to mobilize Palestinians in revolt against Israel.

Sitting next to Mubarak on a plastic chair, Mohammed Farahat, 23, declared, “I want change in this country.”

The childhood friends were seated at a canteen in the parking lot of Ramallah’s public hospital where injured demonstrators were being treated Saturday night. One of them is Fatah and one is Hamas, but both said that protesters not political parties are doing the organizing.

“We want a third Intifada,” Farahat said, explaining that if the current wave of attacks and nearly round-the-clock protests continue across the West Bank, another uprising could be well on the way.

“The first Intifada was a surprise to everyone, so why shouldn’t a third Intifada be a surprise too,” he said.

Yet Israeli and Palestinian leaders are choosing their words carefully, specifically not calling the current strife an “Intifada.” Netanyahu has stuck to cracking down on “terrorism” and “incitement,” making comparisons to different upticks in violence over the past decade.

Secretary-General of the PLO Saeb Erekat has avoided using the Intifada label too. “Over the past few days, many have wondered whether this is the beginning of a third Intifada. For the Palestinian people, this question is no longer relevant. There has not been a single day, in almost half a century, that we haven’t suffered from the Israeli occupation,” he wrote in an op-ed in Newsweek Europe last Friday.

Yet Palestinian media is airing full throttle comparisons to the first Intifada, one characterized by mass demonstrations, as opposed to the second uprising that was led by armed factions and hallmarked by suicide attacks, and a full scale Israeli incursion into the West Bank.

During commercial breaks, most Palestinian news outlets run images of the current protests juxtaposed with footage from the turbulent late 1980s. The hashtags they use on social media to accompany coverage, “the Intifada has started.”

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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10 Responses

  1. talknic
    October 12, 2015, 11:35 am

    Netanyahu would have jailed David, fined his parents and bulldozed their home

    • markjohnconley
      October 14, 2015, 2:50 am

      David and Goliath; but in reverse this time. As I said on another article thread, if I were Palestinian I, too, would be throwing (slinging even better) lots of stones at the immoral Israeli terrorist offence forces

    • Chu
      October 15, 2015, 11:48 am

      This ‘conflict’ is a ludicrous rigged game in the world today, which is why people are so fascinated with the continued hoax. It’s like the media is gaslighting us to believe that there’s no occupation.

      Israel is a corrupt agent/nation (using various forms/schemes of victimization to enable their criminal occupation ~ note DeBlasio’s trip to Israel this week) that casts itself to be some form of problem resolution from WWII that we must continue to endure. That’s what the stale message is to the US and the compliant corporate media stenographers.

      But Democrats like Hillary, Bernie, Trump aren’t going to say anything significant against our occupier/criminal friendship, or risk the ire of the group retaliation and forego the chance of rising in the political sphere. And why would any pols hurt their self interests and criticize something that a majority of the electorate have no real understanding about and are often misled by agencies like the NYTimes, Washington Post, etc.? The last century has moreoften proven that the US is certainly not a moral nation, but a nation of power and rule, and Israel is the project of the 1% zionist class.

  2. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    October 12, 2015, 12:31 pm

    “The Israeli government is also threatening actions to penalize the Islamic movement in Israel,”

    Just like they used to Hebron massacre to outlaw Kach and steal their voters. Now they’re out to destroy the Joint List.

    “The prime minister said he is mulling legal action against member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi for “wild and deceitful incitement [that] is a clear call to violence.” He told the cabinet, “This is serious and I will not ignore it.”

    He doesn’t have the guts to go after his own mean drunk wife so he compensates by targeting Zoabi. Damn uppity females.

    • inbound39
      October 12, 2015, 2:20 pm

      Lol….given that at some time in the near future Netanyahu appears before the Hague charged with War Crimes,I am sure Sara will give the Judge a damned good telling off….lol.

  3. Ossinev
    October 12, 2015, 2:59 pm

    “We are doing this as an emergency measure and will consider the extent of its implementation; if need be, we will make the law more severe”
    As in:
    “Protective Custody” Rules
    Hitler induced a confused and frightened Hindenburg to sign a decree euphemistically called, “For the Protection of the People and State,” suspending all of the basic rights of citizens and imposing the death sentence for arson, sabotage, resistance to the decree, and disturbances to public order. Arrests could be made on suspicion, and people could be sentenced to prison without trial or the right of counsel. The suspension was never lifted throughout the entire period of Nazi rule, and the decree of February 28th destroyed fundamental guarantees under the Weimar democracy”

    I knew I had seen something remarkably similar somewhere before !

  4. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    October 12, 2015, 5:21 pm

    I am posting this as a warning to any of you who follow people who tweet on the I/P issues. Avoid the photos of the child executed today in Jerusalem, you do not have to see that. Also do NOT read the comments unless you want a voyage into the soul destroying world of the racist mind.

    • just
      October 13, 2015, 6:53 am

      Thanks, abc.

      wrt racists and Israeli incitement:

      “Internet Incitement Against Arabs in Israel on the Rise

      Since the latest wave of violence began there has been a sharp rise in the number of statements inciting to violence against Arabs, and in the number of Facebook pages expressing extremist right-wing positions receiving ‘likes,’ according to experts on monitoring Internet discourse.

      Hateful expressions appearing recently on the Web include calls for death to Arabs and terrorists, and calls for a second Nakba (“catastrophe”), referring to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Palestine in 1948.

      When MK Yinon Magal said on Channel 10 that one can count “not only intifadas but also Nakbas,” his comment went viral. In addition, the calls for boycotting Arab businesses as well as carrying guns and knives have increased, as has the appearance of pictures of terrorists who were killed.

      Meirav Bornstein, strategic vice president at Buzzilla, which scans and maps Internet conversations, says that according to her research there were previously some 8,000 discussions containing language that incites against Arabs per week. That figure reached 10,000 during the final week of September and skyrocketed to 30,000 during the first week of October. There were 7,000 such conversations alone on the day of the terror attack in Tel Aviv last Thursday, almost twice as many as in the previous days.

      Incitement was most prevalent on Facebook, accounting for 40 percent of the violent discourse, followed by Twitter (38 percent), readers’ comments (“talkbacks”) (12 percent), forums (8 percent) and blogs (1 percent). The Facebook page with the most incitement was the news site 0404, followed by Channel 2’s pages, Walla, Divuah Rishoni, Rotter and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s page.

      One of the posts that resonated significantly in recent days was that of a female soldier, Eden Levy, who published a picture with the phrase “Hating Arabs isn’t racism, it reflects values” scrawled on her palm. The page received over 200 invective responses and Facebook complaints, which led to its blocking. The Meretz demonstration in front of the prime minister’s residence drew a similar response from party opponents, who flooded the page with pornographic pictures until Facebook removed it over complaints of inappropriate content.

      Dr. Anat Ben-David, an Internet investigator and sociologist at the Open University, says that these examples illustrate how new patterns have developed on the Web to dodge control by Facebook, which removes inappropriate content. According to her, because of the many complaints of incitement, people have learned how to incite without inciting.

      “They would never write about Arabs,” she explains. “You don’t write about Arabs these days, rather put pictures or a link or share something from someone else. It removes responsibility, but the audience does get the message and you see the incitement in the responses, which are much harder to monitor. They write ‘Balestinians’ rather than Palestinians. Some of them write “kill them” without saying who.

      Perhaps this is the reason that Buzzilla’s research discovered that the most prominent expression in the conversations that including expressions inciting to violence against Arabs was “May it be his will,” which appears in prayers for erasing their name and memory, while the phrase “Death to Arabs” only came in fourth place.

      “There are thousands of people who are fans of these pages, even if the don’t participate in them actively,” says Ben-David. …”

      read more:

      Of course, when media and governments (Israel and US) only refer to Palestinians as “terrorists”, then they are part and parcel of the problem…

    • Kate
      October 15, 2015, 1:21 am

      Do you mean Ahmad Saleh Manasra, the boy lying bleeding on the street while surrounding Israelis call him names and tell him to die? In fact he didn’t die, though his cousin Hassan Khaled Manasra did – if you watch the version of the video on Al-Arabiya you will see Ahmad stand up at the end. Many sites are cutting off the end of the video, making it appear that he died. Things are bad enough without people making them seem worse!

      • a blah chick
        a blah chick
        October 15, 2015, 8:53 am

        Kate, you touch on the frustration I have. I can’t count the number of times on Twitter I have seen footage showing someone killed, then they weren’t, they’re in a coma, no they walked away. There was one video of an elderly man berating Israeli soldiers who suddenly falls down. It was alleged he was shot dead, then someone said he just fainted. Later I found out that he had been shot, with rubber bullets, but was recovering , thank God.

        So I would advise anyone viewing these videos on the Internet to be careful about distributing them before you know the whole story. Like Kate says things are bad enough.

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