Israeli lawmakers approved jailing children as young as 12 convicted of “terrorist offences” in the wake of repeated attacks by young Palestinians, the parliament said on Wednesday.
“The ‘Youth Bill,’ which will allow the authorities to imprison a minor convicted of serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder or manslaughter even if he or she is under the age of 14, passed its second and third readings Tuesday night,” an English-language statement said.
It added that the seriousness of attacks in recent months “demands a more aggressive approach, including toward minors.”
The statement quoted Anat Berko, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and the bill’s sponsor, as saying “to those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15.”
Violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel since October has killed at least 218 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP count.
Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.
Many of the assailants were young people, including teenagers. Other youths have been shot dead during protests and clashes with security forces.
Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked gave the “Youth Bill” full backing when it came before a ministerial committee last year.