An Israeli ministerial committee has approved a law sharply criticised by human rights groups as it would allow the imprisonment of Palestinian children as young as 12.

Authorised by Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, the bill could enable Israel to impose jail terms for children aged 12 years or above, who are found guilty of “nationalistic-motivated” violent offences – including murder, attempted murder and manslaughter.Israel-draft-law-allows-jail-for-Palestinians-aged-12

The bill still needs to be passed by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in order to become a law.

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According to rights groups, the proposed law will in effect impact Palestinian children in occupied East Jerusalem and those who carry Israeli citizenship and live in cities, towns and villages across the country.

Until now, Palestinian children in East Jerusalem could not be imprisoned unless they are 14 or older.

“Israel’s [civilian] penal laws are becoming more and more similar to military laws in the occupied West Bank,” Rafat Sub Laban, advocacy unit coordinator at the Addameer Prisoner Support Network, told Al Jazeera.

While Israel has placed occupied East Jerusalem under its civilian law, the rest of the occupied West Bank is under military rule.

Israeli military courts are already able to try and imprison Palestinian children 12 years and older in the West Bank, as long as they do not carry Israeli-issued Jerusalem residency permits.