Ahmed Manasra, a 13-year-old boy who has been named as the youngest terrorist in a wave of Palestinian attacks over the past three weeks, has retracted his confession and claims he did not participate in the stabbing attacks in Jerusalem last week.
“I didn’t stab anybody because I don’t like blood,” he told investigators this week, after leaving a Jerusalem hospital where he recovered from being hit by a car as he fled the scene of the stabbing in the capital’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.
“In the middle [of the attack],” he explained, “I changed my mind. The person who actually committed the stabbings was Hassan,” he claimed, according to a report on the Walla news site. He was referring to his cousin and accomplice, Hassan Manasra, 15, who was shot to death by police when he lunged at them with his knife.
Two Israelis were stabbed and wounded in the attack, a 13-year-old and a 25-year-old.
“I went with my cousin, but I didn’t stab anybody and I even asked him not to stab the other boy,” Manasra continued. “I wanted to stab Jews, but I changed my mind. My cousin had convinced me to go.”
Manasra’s attorney told police his client was “not responsible for his actions,” and that cousin Hassan had prevailed upon him to join him in the attack.
Prosecutors plan to indict Manasra on two charges of attempted murder, but Manasra is too young to serve time in prison. Israeli criminal law exempts children under 14 from prison regardless of the severity of their crime. Under Israeli criminal procedure, the indictment must be filed by November 1, while Manasra only turns 14 in January.
Manasra became the center of an Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic spat after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech in Ramallah last Wednesday, spoke out against “aggression by Israel and its settlers, who commit terror against our people,” and who “execute our children in cold blood, as they did to the child Ahmed Manasra and other children in Jerusalem and elsewhere.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly accused Abbas of spreading “incitement and lies” in his claim that Manasra was killed by Israeli in the aftermath of the October 12 attack.
On Friday, an official from Abbas’s office walked back the accusation, saying the PA chief had been misled as to Manasra’s condition.