Palestinian Girl Released From Israeli Prison After 2-Month Sentence

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Palestinian 14-year-old schoolgirl Malak al-Khatib is greeted by her father after her release from an Israeli jail on February 13, 2015, in the occupied West Bank Palestinian village of Tulkarem. AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh

Published Friday, February 13, 2015

Israeli authorities on Friday released 14-year-old Palestinian schoolgirl Malak al-Khatib after a two-month prison sentence, Ma’an news agency reported.

Malak, from the occupied West Bank town of Beitin near Ramallah, was arrested last December and sentenced to two months in jail after being charges with stone-throwing and possession of a knife.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society said Malak was also fined 6,000 shekels ($1,500).

Malak’s parents, Ali and Khawla al-Khatib had rejected the charges, which also included blocking a main road, as “fabricated.”

“She was leaving school after attending her last exam for the first semester when all of a sudden soldiers jumped at her, handcuffed her hands and took her with them,” Malak’s father told reporters after a court hearing in January.

"How could a 14-year-old have committed these acts?" the girl's mother asked.

Israeli forces arrest about 1,000 children every year in the occupied West Bank, often on charges of stone-throwing, according to rights group Defense for Children International Palestine.

But Malak’s case has attracted an outpouring of public attention and had media organizations flocking to her family's door.

The Ramallah-based Ahrar Center for Prisoners' Studies and Human Rights had said Malak was considered the youngest prisoner currently serving a sentence in Israeli jails.

According to the UN children's fund (UNICEF), over the past decade, Israel has detained "an average of two children each day."

In its 2013 report, UNICEF added that Israel was the only country in the world where children were "systematically tried" in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights said Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

It also documented dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state — Israel — was declared inside historical Palestine, leading to the mass displacement and killing of Palestinians.

Israel then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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