Israel to release young female Palestinian prisoner

The Israel Prisons Service says today 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.

Prisons Service spokesman Assaf Librati says authorities have decided to release the girl on April 24 — six weeks before her scheduled release. He says the decision was made because of her “young age.”

The case put Israel’s military justice system in a difficult spot and has drawn attention to the dual legal systems in the West Bank — one for Palestinians and one for Israelis.

The girl was arrested February 9 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 4.5 months in prison.

Last week, her family appealed to the IDF 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.”

Under Israeli law, Israeli citizens must be 14 or older to serve time in prison. Palestinians in the West Bank are under a separate military legal system that allows imprisonment from 12 years of age.

— AP

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