The Israeli prison service released a 12-year-old girl, believed to be the youngest Palestinian female ever imprisoned, on Sunday after she confessed to planning a stabbing attack against Israelis in a West Bank settlement.
“I am happy to be out. Prison is bad,” the girl, Dima al-Wawi told AP after her release, where she was greeted by around 80 relatives. “During my time in prison I missed my classmates and my friends and family.”
The New York Times’ Diaa Hadid reported from Halhoul in the West Bank: “After her detention, Dima was interrogated without her parents or a lawyer present. She said she had been yelled at during her interrogation and attended six court sessions with her feet in shackles, causing her to develop a limp. Prison itself, she said, was fine because she was allowed to play with other incarcerated girls.”
In Israel, Israelis and Palestinians are tried under under separate legal systems. Israeli and Palestinian children are also tried under differing circumstances, as this graphic by +972 mag shows. Whereas Israeli children are tried in front of a civilian court judge, Palestinian children face a military judge and can be contained without seeing a lawyer for up to 90 days (an Israeli child can be detained without seeing a lawyer for up to 2 days). According to a 2013 report by UNICEF, Israel also operates “the first and only juvenile military court in operation in the world.”
Palestinians are also convicted at overwhelmingly high rates — 99.74 percent. For Israelis attacking Palestinians, however, “the indictment rate is 7 percent and the conviction rate is 2 percent” over the last ten years, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
“Maybe she had a knife when they arrested her but she is just a child,” Umm Rashid, al-Wawi’s mother told +972. “What would she have been able to do with a knife? In Israel they don’t treat children the way they treat our children.”
Israeli citizens who are under 14 cannot go to jail.
Since October, around 28 Israelis and two Americans have been killed by attacks perpetrated by Palestinians. Israeli forces meanwhile have killed over 200 Palestinians, who they claim were trying to attack Israelis.