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Police arrest nine during march in unrecognized Bedouin village

Nine Bedouin and Jewish activists arrested for trying to prevent JNF bulldozers from turning Al-Araqib’s land into a forest.

Text and photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Israeli authorities arrested nine Bedouin and Jewish activists in the unrecognized village of Al-Araqib Sunday morning as they attempted to block bulldozers from working to turn village land into a Jewish National Fund (JNF) forest.

Like every other morning over the past week, JNF tractors began working the land, which has been destroyed by Israeli authorities 100 times over the past six years, in order to plant a forest in its place.

The women of Al-Araqib, joined by a number of teenagers and local activists, marched toward the tractors, which were guarded by approximately 30 police officers.

After marching, the women took a break for lunch before marching once again toward the tractors, this time attempting to block them with their bodies. The police violently arrested two of the women, one of whom fainted. Three Jewish activists who attempted to assist her were detained and taken to a local police station.

Two teenagers and two men from the village were also arrested.

Last week the police arrested Sayekh, Al-Araqib’s sheikh, and his son Aziz, but was resigned to release them without any conditions after they were kept for hours at the police station in the Bedouin township of Rahat.

One of the village women, whose 20-year-old daughter was arrested, told +972: “The goal of the arrest was to pressure people to agree to restraining orders keeping them away from Al-Araqib. I hope the fact that the police chose to arrest women will cause people in Rahat and other places to wake up and come support us.” Over the past week the police refrained from arresting women, and focused on men in the hopes of quashing the protests.

The land in question is currently in the process of ownership registration and has yet to be legally resolved. In 2012 an Israeli court ruled that no irreversible changes should be made on these plots of land, which the Bedouin families claim as their own. Despite promises made by JNF chairman Efi Stenzler to halt any work until the issue is cleared legally, tractors began plowing this week.

It is one of 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev desert in southern Israel, which means Israel refuses to provide residents with connections to the national water and...

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PHOTOS: Circus performers stage vigil for imprisoned Palestinian clown in Tel Aviv

Palestinian and Israeli performers set up shop in a central Tel Aviv pedestrian promenade to demand the release of Mohammed Abu Sakha, a Palestinian clown Israel is imprisoning without charge or trial.

Circus performers from the West Bank city of Nablus and jugglers from Israeli staged a protest performance in central Tel Aviv Tuesday calling on Israeli authorities to release Mohammed Abu Sakha, a Palestinian clown who has been imprisoned by Israel for seven months, much of which in administrative detention — a draconian tool Israel uses to hold Palestinians without charge or trial.

The performance, which Amnesty International helped organize, was held at Tel Aviv’s weekly artists market on Nahalat Binyamin Street. The central component of the performance was small cage containing a clown. Around him, the jugglers juggled and circus performers put on acrobatic maneuvers.

Israeli and Palestinian circus artists protest in Tel Aviv for the release of Palestinian clown, Mohammed Abu Sakha, who is being imprisoned by Israel, July 5, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli forces arrested Abu Sakha last December at the Za’atara checkpoint while on his way to visit his parents in the West Bank city of Jenin. Shortly thereafter, he was placed in administrative detention. In June, his administrative detention order was renewed for another six months. Like all Palestinian administrative detainees, of whom there are over 700 at the moment, Abu Sakha does not know of what he is accused and has no opportunity to defend himself against the accusations.

Until his arrest, Abu Sakha operated the Palestinian Circus School in the West Bank, teaching circus performance to Palestinian children. Abu Sakha started learning the art of circus nine years ago, when he was 14 years old, and since then, it has become his entire life.

He lives near the circus and spends his entire day working there. He is also busy writing his book there about how to teach therapy for special needs children through the art of circus. His friends say that children that didn’t know how to take a step when they met him can now walk thanks to him.

The Palestinian circus is one of the rare pearls...

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Ethiopian Israelis protest police brutality in Tel Aviv

Hundreds close major streets in central Tel Aviv to protest police discrimination against black Israelis.

Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian origin blocked streets and highways in central Tel Aviv Sunday to protest police brutality against black Israelis.

Police arrested 12 people for blocking streets. (Update: all of the arrestees were released in the early morning hours.)

Some protesters carried coffins bearing the name of Yosef Salaams, an Ethiopian Israeli man who committed suicide after suffering police abuse.

 

Large police forces met the protest, which took place near IDF headquarters in central Tel Aviv.

Last year, after several high-profile cases of police violence against Ethiopian Israelis, mass protests took place in cities across Israel.

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In Photos: Five years of popular struggle in Palestinian village Kufr Qaddum

After building an Israeli settlement next to the road connecting Kufr Qaddum’s to the West Bank city of Nablus, the Israeli military closed the road to Palestinian traffic. For the past five years, villagers have protested every Friday to demand it be reopened.

Five years ago this week, in July 2011, residents of the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum began staging weekly popular protests demanding that the Israeli army open a road passing through the village to Nablus. The army closed the road to Palestinian traffic in 2003, citing security concerns to a nearby Israeli settlement partly built on the village’s land.

The army has used various tactics over the years in its attempt to suppress the popular struggle. It has utilized attack dogs, installed roadblocks and other forms of collective punishment, carried out waves of arrests and night raids into the village, shot tear gas and putrid ‘skunk water’ at village homes, hung posters threatening to arrest local children, used crowd-control weapons, and even live ammunition.

At the protest this week, marking five years of popular struggle, the Israeli military wounded three Palestinian demonstrators with live fire. Hundreds of people reportedly took part in the demonstration.

Villagers of held their protests to re-open the village’s main road to Nablus every Friday since July 2011, accompanied by a small number of international activists, and an even smaller number of Israelis.

From day one, the army has responded to the protests with violence. There is no legal avenue for protest available to Palestinians in the West Bank, who live under an Israeli military regime. In response to the army’s presence and violent suppression of the demonstrations, village youths often burn tires, lay large rocks to impede military jeeps, and throw stones toward the soldiers.

Kufr Qaddum lies on the main road between the northern West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Nablus. Although the village itself is situated in Area B, the Oslo Accords designation that means civil planning is supposed to fall under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, most of the village’s lands are located in Area C, under complete Israeli military planning and security control.

Of the village’s 24,000 dunams (6,000 acres), the Israeli military seized 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) for use by nearby Israeli settlements. The army requires the Palestinian residents to obtain special military permits in order to accessing another 11,000...

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Palestinian man serves full prison sentence — Israel refuses to release him

Bilal Kayed was supposed to leave Israeli prison on June 13, after serving nearly 15 years behind bars. But on the day of his release, Israel decided to put him in administrative detention.

By Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed should have been out of prison by now. But on the day of his release and despite serving close to 15 years behind bars, Israel’s military authorities decided to put him in administrative detention for a period of six months.

On Saturday dozens of Palestinians took part in a solidarity march with Kayed in the West Bank town of Asira ash-Shamaliya, near Nablus. Kayed was supposed to be released from Israeli prison on June 13th.

Administrative detention is a procedure that Israel uses to imprison detainees based on secret evidence, without charging them or allowing them to defend themselves at trial. Administrative detention orders may be renewed indefinitely.

The demonstrators gathered at the center of town and marched to Kayed’s family’s home while holding up his photo, as well as Palestinian and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine flags (PFLP).

Outside the family home, PFLP activists read a press release written by party leaders, calling for massive protests across the country in support of Kayed.

“June 21 and 22 will be days of hunger strike in all Israeli prisons” said the statement, which described the step as an “initial one that could be followed with an open hunger strike among all PFLP prisoners if they bring about no Israeli response.” The statement also condemned Israel’s punishment of PFLP prisoners by preventing family visits.

Palestinian Legislative Council member Hosni Burini of Hamas, who took part in the demonstration, denounced Kayed’s detention. “It is not only us who do not respect Israeli courts and rulings, Israel doesn’t respect them either. What do they want from a prisoner who served more than 14 years sentence in their prisons?”

According to Burini the decision aims to punish the prisoner and his family, since it was issued at the last moment while his family was awaiting his release.

Kayed, 34, has been imprisoned by since December 2001 on charges of membership in the PFLP, as well as participation in activities against the State of Israel. He was 19 years old at the time of his arrest. Kayed is now among 750 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial.

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PHOTOS: Tens of thousands of Palestinians cross Israeli checkpoints for Ramadan prayers

Nearly 70,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 300 from Gaza take advantage of a temporary relaxation of Israeli restrictions on movement in order to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Photos and text by Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Thousands of Palestinians left their homes in cities and towns across the West Bank early Friday morning in order to make their way through a number of Israeli checkpoints leading to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.

The Palestinian worshipers hoping to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa for the second Friday of Ramadan were subject to strict criteria set by the Israeli military. Only men over the age of 45 years and women of all ages were allowed to enter without special permits.

Earlier in the month, in what has been described as collective punishment for a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, the army suspended 83,000 special holiday entry permits it had issued to Palestinians for Ramadan.

Buses organized to bring worshipers to Israeli checkpoints faced severe difficulty in traffic jams on many major roads in the West Bank.

Hundreds of young Palestinians hoping to cross into Jerusalem gathered at the Qalandiya and Bethlehem checkpoints, at the northern and southern ends of Jerusalem, respectively. Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers refused to let them through without permits.

Palestinian residents of the West Bank are only allowed into Jerusalem and Israel with special military issued entry permits most of the year. During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the army eases restrictions on Fridays. Therefore, Palestinians who meet the criteria of traveling without a permit Ramadan take advantage of the exceptional situation on the four Fridays, often doing shopping and heading to the beach, which they cannot access the rest of the year.

A small number of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip also generally receive permits to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan. Last week, Israeli officials rescinded those permits in the wake of the Tel Aviv shooting attack. This week, 300 Palestinians from Gaza were allowed into Jerusalem for prayers.

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Palestinian prisoner placed in admin. detention — after serving 15 years

Bilal Kayed was supposed to be released from Israeli prison after serving a nearly 15-year sentence. Instead, he was placed under indefinite detention without charges or trial.

Photos and text by Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org

Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed was meant to be released from Israeli prison on Monday after serving 14.5 years. Instead Israeli military authorities decided to put him in administrative detention for a period of six months, which means he will be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

On Tuesday dozens of Palestinians took part in a solidarity protest in the West Bank city of Nablus. Kayed’s detention came as a shock to his family and relatives. “His lawyer called us to say that he will not be released today,” said his brother Mahmoud Kayed, adding that only a few hours later did they discover that he was put in administrative detention.

During the protest the demonstrators chanted against the decision, while raising photos of Kayed along with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) flags, the leftist Palestinian party to which he belongs.

Administrative detention is a procedure that Israel uses to imprison detainees based on secret evidence, without charging them or allowing them to defend themselves at trial. Administrative detention orders may be renewed indefinitely.

The family confirmed that their son is planning on starting a hunger strike to protest his administrative detention. According to a statement released by the PFLP on Monday, its members in prison will begin an initial two-day hunger strike in solidarity with Kayed. “The hunger strike is just the beginning in a series of escalating steps to be implemented by all comrades in Zionist prisons and detention centers,” said the statement.

Kayed, 34, has been imprisoned by since December 2001 on charges of membership in the PFLP, as well as participation in activities against the State of Israel. He was 19 years old at the time of his arrest. Kayed is now among 750 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Last Friday Israeli authorities placed a Palestinian prisoners’ rights activist under administrative detention for six months, 40 days after he was first detained and taken in for interrogation.

Hasan Safadi, who works as media coordinator for Addameer, an NGO that supports Palestinian prisoners in both Israeli and Palestinian prisons, was set to be released from detention on June 10 by order of Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court, after paying NIS 2,500 in bail and obtaining...

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WATCH: Palestinians cross Israeli checkpoint into Jerusalem on Ramadan

Despite Israel revoking tens of thousands of entry permits, some Palestinian worshippers were able to travel from the West Bank to Jerusalem to mark the first Friday of Ramadan.

Photos by Ahmad al-Bazz, Oren Ziv / Activestills.org
Text by Oren Ziv

Thousands of Palestinians crossed through Qalandiya Checkpoint in the West Bank to Jerusalem on Friday, to participate in the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting, at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Buses from across the West Bank brought worshippers to the checkpoint, which they then crossed on foot. On the other side of checkpoint were buses that took them to Jerusalem’s Old City.

On Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of retributive actions following the shooting attack by two young Palestinians in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, which left four Israelis dead. Netanyahu’s ordered the revoking of 80,000 entry permits that had been previously issued to West Bank Palestinians over Ramadan. On Friday Israeli authorities restricted entry to Jerusalem to Palestinian men over 45, while all Palestinian women were allowed to cross.

The number of Palestinians who arrived at the checkpoint was relatively small, as most of the Palestinian public is still unsure of the criteria for entering Jerusalem. In previous years the second, third, and fourth Fridays of Ramadan brought with them large amounts of worshippers from across the West Bank, often leading to long waiting times at the checkpoint.

On Friday morning Hebrew-language news websites ran headlines declaring the IDF had put the West Bank under full closure due to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, as well as in response to the shooting attack. However, those who read the articles in full discovered that the closure did not apply to those who came to pray at Al-Aqsa. Furthermore, the 80,000 cancelled permits did not apply to Palestinians who travel to Jerusalem on the weekends for purposes of worship.

As opposed to previous years in which Palestinian youth found ways to climb over the separation wall and reach Jerusalem, on Friday morning large police forces were stationed on the Jerusalem side of the wall in order to prevent them from doing so.

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PHOTOS: Hundreds mourn Palestinian shot dead by Israeli army

20-year-old Jamal Dwekat was shot during clashes in the West Bank village of Balata, after Israeli soldiers raided the village and guarded Jewish Israeli civilians who prayed at Joseph’s Tomb nearby.

Photos and text by Ahmad al-Bazz

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the funeral of Jamal Dwekat on Wednesday, after was killed during clashes with Israeli soldiers near Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank village, Balata , just outside Nablus.

Dwekat, 20, was among dozens of Palestinian youth who clashed with army last Friday after soldiers raided the village around midnight last Friday to stand guard as Jewish Israeli civilians prayed at the tomb.

According to reports, several Palestinian youth were wounded by both live ammunition and tear gas after they attempted to block the main road of the village and threw stones. Dwekat was evacuated to an Israeli hospital, where he died of his wounds on Monday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the funeral, Palestinians chanted against the army’s frequent night raids, which are usually accompanied by a strict curfew on Balata’s Palestinian residents. One of Dwekat’s family members condemned “Palestinian-Israeli security coordination” around Joseph’s Tomb, saying it is “shameful” when Palestinian security forces guard the tomb all the time, only leaving “once Israeli occupation forces raid the city.” From an Israeli point of view, the military escort is essential to prevent stone throwing at the Jewish worshippers.

Only one day before Dwekat was injured, thousands of Israelis prayed at the tomb along with hundreds of Israeli soldiers. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri was among the worshippers, and was reportedly accompanied by fellow Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur and Petah Tivka Deputy Mayor Uriel Boso, who were heavily guarded.

The site, which Jews refer to as Joseph’s Tomb, has long been a flashpoint of violent night clashes. Jews believe the site to be the burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph, while Muslims believes it is the place where Islamic cleric Sheikh Yussif Dwekat was laid to rest.

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PHOTOS: Nationalist Jewish-Israelis march through Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter

The Jerusalem Day march, marking the ‘reunification’ of the city under Israeli sovereignty, has more to do with domination over Palestinians than celebration.

Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Text by +972 Magazine Staff

Jerusalem Day is billed as a celebration of the city’s “reunification” in 1967, when Israeli forces captured the Old City along with the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.

In practice, Jerusalem Day is an opportunity for Jewish-Israeli nationalists, draped in flags, dancing in circles, singing and chanting “death to Arabs” as they march through East Jerusalem and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Most of the Jewish participants are bused in from right-wing and nationalist yeshivas throughout Israel and the West Bank.

Ahead of the march Police order Palestinian shopkeepers to shutter their stalls and stores and Palestinians are cleared from the streets in order to prevent the ultra-nationalist participants from attacking them. Jewish participants have been known to vandalize shuttered stores, bang on the doors of homes, chant racist and violent slogans against Muslims and Palestinians, and even use physical violence against Palestinian passersby.

This year, following two consecutive years in which the High Court of Justice ordered police to reign in Jewish participants verbal and physical violence against Palestinian residents, police kept closer reigns on the march. It was limited in time and although individual provocative acts still took place, police and ushers were reportedly more vigilant about maintaining order. A police spokesperson said officers arrested two Jewish minors for shouting racist slogans.

The international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, including the Old City. And although Israel annexed the territory and included it in the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, its residents were not granted citizenship; they hold permanent residency, which can be revoked for any number of reasons, often at the discretion of the Israeli interior minister.

A growing number of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been applying for Israeli citizenship in recent years, but Israel has been granting fewer and fewer of those applications. Whereas the Israeli Interior Ministry approved 36.8 percent of applications over the past decade, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday, in 2014 that rate dropped to a measly 5 percent and in 2015 plummeted to 2.9 percent.

Israel has revoked the residency 14,416 East Jerusalem Palestinians since it seized control of the territory in the 1967 Six Day...

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PHOTOS: Palestinian ‘return train’ is stopped at Israel’s wall

On Nakba Day, activists build a symbolic train to bring Palestinian refugees back to their homes in what is today Israel.

Photos and text by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered outside the Bethlehem-area Dheisheh Refugee Camp on an unseasonably hot Sunday, Nakba Day, in order to board and accompany a symbolic “Return Train” meant to take Palestinian refugees back to their homes and villages from which they fled and were expelled in 1948.

Dheisheh is home to thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from some 45 villages and cities in what is now the state of Israel.

The “train” was built by local activists. The locomotive was powered by an automobile, which pulled a number of passenger cars bearing the names of villages and cities to which the train was supposed to reach.

Read also: How I explained the Nakba to my kids

Dozens of older Palestinians along the train’s route appeared emotional at the sight of the “Return Train,” especially when one activist jumped atop the locomotive and started yelling, conductor-style, the names of its would-be destinations: “Haifa! Akka! Safed!”

One of the organizers explained to +972 Magazine that according to Palestinian folk lore, Palestinian refugees from all over the world will return to their homes by train one day: from refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, from the West Bank and from Gaza. Therefore, he continued, they decided to build a symbolic train as a way of promoting the right of return.

Read also: Sentenced to life at birth: What do Palestinian refugees want?

Crowds gathered to see the train as it made its way along Bethlehem’s main road toward the Israeli separation all, which cuts off what used to be the main road connecting Jerusalem and the southern West Bank.

When the train neared the Israeli army’s “Checkpoint 300” soldiers and Border Police officers opened a massive steel gate in the wall, although not as some might have hoped to let the procession through. Instead, Israeli security forces crossed over to the Bethlehem side and fired tear gas toward the Palestinian youths who had started to gather while waiting for the train to arrive.

Read also: The Long Road to Bethlehem

Despite the tear gas, a number of Palestinian activists made it almost all the way to the wall itself, where a Border...

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IN PICTURES: Israel clamps down on Nakba Day 'return race'

Abdullah Abu Rahmah, one of the leaders of the 11-years-old Bil’in protests against the separation wall, has been arrested after confronting Border Police over the dispersal of the cycling event.

Text and pictures by Oren Ziv

Abduallah Abu Rahmah, one of the leaders of the Bil’in protest movements, was arrested on Friday during a bicycle race in the West Bank to mark the 68th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

Hundreds of Palestinian and international cyclists participated in the so-called “return ride” that kicked off in Ramallah and ended in the village of Bil’in, where grassroots protests against the occupation and the separation barrier have taken place weekly over the last 11 years.

When the race ended and the participants gathered in front of the separation wall for the awards ceremony, a Border Police unit emerged from the nearby settlement of Modi’in Illit and told the crowd, which included numerous journalists, to disperse.

For the past year, the army has prevented protesters from approaching the wall and has blocked their passage in the village outskirts. This week, the protesters arrived two hours earlier than usual, and were met with stun grenades and tear gas canisters that drove them back to the village.

Almost every Palestinian protest in the West Bank is forcefully dispersed by Israeli troops, who declare the sites (including Bil’in) as a closed military zone. But the people of Bil’in are yet to be discouraged.

After the gathering was dispersed, a number of cyclists rode past the IDF and Border Police contingent that was stationed on the wall’s old trail, before it was relocated following a 2010 High Court injunction.

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One of them was Abu Rahmah, who got off his bike and asked the commander of the platoon why the awards ceremony was banned.

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“It’s not a protest, our children have the right to ride their bikes, just like Israeli kids,” he told the officer, who in turn instructed him to leave and said he risked being arrested.

But Abu...

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Israel releases 12-year-old Palestinian girl, highlighting dual legal systems

A Jewish child arrested for an identical crime in the same location would not have been sent to prison. Israeli authorities released the girl after the case got attention and a request from her parents.

Text by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Twelve-year-old Dima al-Wawi, the youngest Palestinian in Israeli prison, was released after two-and-a-half months on Sunday. Israeli authorities delivered her to the Jabara checkpoint in the West Bank in the early afternoon hours, where she was met by her parents and waiting journalists.

Al-Wawi was arrested 75 days earlier at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Karmei Tzur near Hebron for being in possession of a knife. She surrendered the knife to a security guard at the entrance of the settlement and was arrested without incident.

She was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment as part of a plea deal in which she was convicted of attempted manslaughter. The Israel Prison Service agreed to release the 12 year old two months before the end of her sentence, however, after an appeal by her parents and a growing international campaign.

The case highlighted the separate legal systems that Palestinian and Jewish children are subject to in the West Bank. Al-Wawi, a Palestinian, was sent to prison under military law.

A Jewish child of the same age living on the same land and accused of the same crime would be subject to Israeli law, which forbids sending anyone under 14 to prison — the Jewish child would not be have been jailed.

Read also: Two legal systems — discrimination under military occupation

Al-Wawi ran to hug her parents as soon as she was released from the Israel Prison Service transport vehicle Sunday afternoon.

Dozens of Palestinian and international journalists and photographers rushed her and tried to get her to make a statement.

The 12-year-old girl had difficulty speaking but eventually said she wasn’t scared and that she hopes all Palestinian prisoners are released soon.

Her mother, Umm Rashid, told +972, “I am happy that she was released but am furious about the situation. I was angry the day she was arrested and on every one of the 75 days that she was in Israeli prison. She was a girl who was always happy and wanting to play and now she came out of prison scared and weak.”

“Maybe she had a knife when they arrested her but...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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Illustrations: Eran Mendel