Ahmed Manasra, the 13-year-old Arab terrorist who stabbed and critically wounded a 13-year-old Jewish boy in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Yerushalayim in October — whom PA chief Mahmoud Abbas said had been killed by Israel — has decided to fight charges of murder tallied against him by the state. As a result, he is likely to go to prison if convicted, instead of to a juvenile facility.
The possibility that the terrorist, who, together with his cousin tried to commit the murder, could end up in such a facility instead of prison, generated protests and harsh criticism from MKs on Tuesday. Outside the Yerushalayim District Court where a hearing on MaNnsara’s indictment was taking place, angry protesters demanded that the state more aggressively prosecute young terrorists, and change the law to allow even minors to be sent to prison for such acts.
Under current Israeli law, offenders cannot be sent to prison for any reason — even murder and acts of terror — prior to their 14th birthday. Mansara is currently 13, and had he agreed to plead guilty to murder, with which he is being charged, he would have been sent to a youth detention facility, where he would have probably spent several years before release. With the refusal to accept the charges, Mansara will likely go to trial — and sentence will be handed down after his 14th birthday, meaning that if he is convicted, he will go to prison, probably for at least a decade. Family members and attorneys for Mansara had expected him to plead guilty at Tuesday’s hearing.
Manasra achieved unique fame after Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas claimed he was dead, having been “executed” by Israeli forces after he attempted to murder the Israeli victim of his attack. But he was found to be alive in a Yerushalayim hospital, being treated for his wounds. Photos of Mansara receiving treatment were distributed by the Health Ministry. In one of the photos, Mansara is seen holding up a finger into the air, in a gesture similar to that of ISIS terrorists. As a result, officials said, Mansara will be investigated for membership in the terror group as well.
Prosecutors said that they would confer with defense attorneys to discuss the indictment and to determine whether they could revise the charges against Mansara and change them to something he would agree to plead guilty to in order to enable him to avoid prison.
MK Anat Berko (Likud), who participated in the protests, said that the law should be revised to allow courts to sentence 12-year-olds to prison if needed, adding that she would propose a law to that effect. Police threw tear gas at protesters in order to break up the demonstration, saying that the protesters did not have a permit to demonstrate outside the courthouse