Parental Responsibility for Rock-Throwing Becomes High Court Issue

YERUSHALAYIM -
stone throwing
A Palestinian boy hurls rocks at Israeli troops during clashes near Shechem earlier this month. (Reuters/Ayman Nobani)

Israel’s High Court held a hearing on Tuesday to consider the constitutionality of a law punishing Palestinian parents for their children’s rock-throwing, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The law was passed by the Knesset in 2015 in response to an alarming rise in life-threatening incidents involving rock-throwing against Israelis by Palestinian minors. It authorizes the state to revoke certain financial benefits related to children for Palestinian parents whose children are convicted in such cases.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, petitioned the Court along with other NGO’s to strike down the law, arguing that parents cannot be punished for their children’s crimes, and that in many instances they were practically speaking unable to control their behavior.

They argued further that the law and its implementation discriminated against Palestinians, and that it “takes away discretion from judges and gives it to a low official at the National Insurance Institute… to decide if a stone-throwing incident was ideologically motivated or not.”

State attorneys addressed the complaints, saying that penalties against parents were not applied automatically and would only apply where the parents did not do all they could to prevent their children’s crimes. “We do not claim that every parent can influence their child,” said the state.

They argued that rock-throwing threatened public safety and that deterrence was needed. Penalizing parents was one way to combat the phenomenon.

Regarding charges of discrimination, state representatives said it was justified to treat crimes with nationalistic motivations differently than other crimes. Palestinian rock-throwing was in a class by itself, requiring special legal treatment.

As for the role of National Insurance Institute officials, the state contended that judges were not required, since the penalties were administrative and monetary in nature and di bit entail prison sentences.

The Court did not say when a ruling could be expected.