Human rights groups have condemned Israel’s approval of a new law allowing the imprisonment of children as young as 12 for “terrorist offences”, and which is expected to apply mostly to Palestinian children in occupied East Jerusalem.
The “Youth Bill” allows authorities to imprison minors convicted of serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder or manslaughter, even if he or she is under the age of 14, the Israeli government said in a statement on Wednesday.
Attacks in recent months “demands a more aggressive approach, including toward minors”, the government said in the statement.
Israeli rights group B’Tselem criticised the law and Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youth in general.
“Rather than sending them to prison, Israel would be better off sending them to school where they could grow up in dignity and freedom, not under occupation,” the group said in a statement.
“Imprisoning such young minors denies them the chance of a better future.”
Military law, which is currently applied to Palestinian residents of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, already allows imprisonment of 12-year-olds.
Since October, Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 219 Palestinians, including attackers, unarmed protesters, and bystanders. During the same period, Palestinian attackers have killed 34 Israelis in mostly stabbing or shooting incidents