Knife-Wielding Palestinian 12-Year-Old Released from Prison

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

A 12-year-old Palestinian girl who was imprisoned after she confessed to planning a stabbing attack in a Jewish community in Yehudah will be released early, Israel’s prison service said Monday.

According to court documents provided by the military, the girl, whose name could not be published because of her age, approached the town of Karmei Tsur on Feb. 9 with a knife hidden under a shirt.

A security guard ordered her to halt, and a resident instructed her to lie on the ground and told her to give up the knife, which she did. When asked whether she had come to kill Jews, she said yes. She later pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter in a plea bargain and was sentenced to 4½ months in prison.

Last week, the girl’s family appealed to Israeli military and prison officials to release her, citing her age.

In the court documents, the girl said she understood the terms of the plea bargain and her sentence.

The girl’s family said it could not explain what motivated her to go out that day with a knife and questioned whether she had even really tried to carry out an attack.

“We were surprised,” her mother said. “If it’s true, we don’t know the reason why. She wasn’t under any pressure at home.”

Her father, Ismail al-Wawi, said he had worked legally in Israel for 25 years – indicating he was not considered a security threat. After his daughter’s arrest, he said his work permit was revoked.

Prison service spokesman Assaf Librati said authorities had decided Sunday to free the girl on April 24 – six weeks before her scheduled release. He said the decision was made because of her “young age.”

The girl has been held in a wing for female minors and attends classes. She gets “conditions according to international law,” including health care, as well as visits from social workers and relatives, an Israeli official said. Family visits are allowed once or twice a month, he added. She saw her mother Monday.