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13-year-old Palestinian awaits sentencing for throwing rocks at Rachel's Tomb

Feb. 12, 2017 1:14 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2017 7:04 P.M.)
Photo: Israeli police spokesperson
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police said Sunday that a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was awaiting indictment after he was detained in Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem last week for throwing stones.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that the boy, who remained unidentified, threw stones at Rachel’s Tomb, which is located just next to the camp beyond Israel’s separation wall and next to a military base.

Al-Samri did not specify when the boy was detained. She said he was released on a conditional basis and would be indicted at a later date.

The police statement said that the boy was detained while he was holding a slingshot and wearing Kufiyeh scarf covering his face. Al-Samri included a picture purporting to show the slingshot and scarf that were seized from the 13-year-old child.

Al-Samri said that the boy also confessed to being involved “in similar events,” during his interrogation.

She added that seven other Palestinians were detained last week in Aida refugee camp on suspicion of throwing stones, Molotov cocktails, and improvised explosive devices at Rachel's Tomb.

Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian youth late Thursday afternoon in the camp, when at least two residents were detained.

On Wednesday, an Israeli military vehicle stormed Aida refugee camp in broad daylight, and violently detained 14-year-old Ali Jawarish while he was walking home from school, with locals saying no clashes were taking place at the time.

Footage released shortly after the incident showed soldiers aggressively throwing the boy into the back of the jeep, while witnesses told Ma’an they saw the soldiers continue to beat the boy while he was inside the vehicle.

Multiple witnesses said that no clashes were taking place and there was no rock throwing when the military vehicle suddenly careened through a narrow road in the refugee camp and stopped near a group of school children who were on their way home from school.

Al-Samri confirmed to Ma'an that the unidentified boy mentioned in her statement on Sunday was not Jawarish, but said she could not identify suspects who were minors.

The incidents came as locals in Aida have reported escalated military procedures over the past several months, creating what some residents have called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”

Meanwhile, right groups have widely documented the abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions, which has long been the target of criticism by the international community.

A recent article published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has confirmed the extent to which Shin Bet interrogators subject their to torture.

Ofer detention center is one of the most common sites used by Israel for the interrogation of Palestinian children, where Jawarish was reportedly being held. Last October, the the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs reported that the “overwhelming majority” of Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Megiddo and Ofer prisons are tortured during their detention and interrogation.

Defense for Children International - Palestine has said their research showed that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces had endured physical violence after their arrest.

Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing a laws in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli -- legislation rights groups say was designed specifically to target Palestinians, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.

A Palestinian youth was sentenced to 18 years in prison last month for allegedly throwing a rock at an Israeli vehicle -- representing the harshest sentence ever handed down for stone throwing.
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