Israel’s prison service on Monday said it has approved the early release of a 12-year-old Palestinian girl who confessed to planning to carry out a stabbing attack in a West Bank settlement.
Prison service spokesman Assaf Librati said Monday that authorities have decided to release the girl on April 24 — six weeks before her scheduled release. He said the decision was made because of her “young age.”
The case had put Israel’s military justice system in a difficult spot and drawn attention to the dual legal systems in the West Bank — one for Palestinians and one for Israelis.
The girl was arrested in February outside a West Bank settlement with a knife hidden in her shirt and later pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter under a plea bargain. She was sentenced to four and a half months in prison.
Last week, her family appealed to Israeli military and prison officials to free her early, citing her age.
“Prison is not a place for a small child,” said Abeer Baker, one of the girl’s lawyers. “If it was a Jewish girl, she wouldn’t stay in prison for even one hour because it is forbidden according to the Israeli law.”
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, and Palestinian residents there are subject to a system of military law that can sentence suspects as young as 12 to prison.
In contrast, Israeli settlers, as well as Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, are subject to Israeli civil law, which does not allow anyone under 14 to go to prison.
The incident came amid a nearly seven-month wave of violence in which Palestinian attackers have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in Israel and the West Bank. At least 188 Palestinians have died from Israeli fire. Israel says most were attackers, and the rest died in clashes with Israeli security forces.
Many of the Palestinian attackers have been teenagers or youths in their early 20’s. The girl came from Halhul, a village near Hebron, a city that has been a focal point of violence.