Five Palestinian teenagers are facing life imprisonment for a crime that never happened. A settler car accident labels them as “terrorists”. Fight for justice for the Hares Boys!
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Five Palestinian Teens Blackmailed Into Accepting 15 Years Prison Term and Exorbitant ‘Fines’ for a Crime That Never Happened
It is with great sadness and anger that we hereby inform you of the outcome of the Hares Boys case: the five teenagers are being sentenced to 15 years in prison and are to pay a total of NIS 150,000 (~US $39,000 or €35,000) to the Israeli authorities. Failure to provide the exorbitant sum would, it is implied, result in more years of prison added to the boys’ sentences.
Ali Shamlawi, Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Suleiman, Ammar Souf, and Tamer Souf have been kept in prison for 2 years and 8 months and are now being sentenced for a crime that never happened.
The five teenagers (16-17 years old at the time) from the village of Hares (Salfit governorate, West Bank, occupied Palestine) were kidnapped from their homes by the Israeli army in March 2013. The teens were accused of throwing stones at illegal settler cars, one of which drove under a truck that was parked along Route 5 near the village of Hares. The driver’s children were injured during the accident and one of them died two years later after pneumonia complications. The boys denied throwing stones but were forced to sign ‘confessions’ following torturous interrogations at the hands of Israeli secret services. There was never any evidence of the boys’ guilt but it is sadly a reality in the Israeli military court system that does not comply with due process and convicts Palestinians at a 99.7% rate.
After almost 3 years of routine hearings at Israeli military courts, where the boys were initially accused of ‘attempted murder’, they were told on 26 November 2015 that they are now being charged with manslaughter and are being sentenced to prison terms of 15 years, provided their families pay ‘fines’ of NIS 30,000 [US $7,750 or € 7,100] each by the deadline of 28 January 2016. Failure to pay the amount requested by the Israeli military court would, it is understood, result in each boy’s sentence being prolonged, possibly to at least 25 years in prison.
There is no other way to describe this situation the five teens and their families have endured other than as criminal activity on behalf of the Israeli system of ‘justice’. Pressing the families to agree to a court ‘deal’ and threatening them with harsher sentences if they don’t accept is nothing less than extortion. Demanding that families pay large sums of money as a ‘fine’ or a ‘compensation’ to the occupying power is nothing less than a demand for ransom.
On behalf of the Free the Hares Boys campaign we condemn such acts of injustice committed by the Israeli military court.
We invite local and international human rights organizations, the world’s democratic government institutions and people of conscience to stand up to this injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation and to demand justice for the Hares Boys. Please consider contacting your country’s diplomatic representatives in Tel Aviv or occupied Jerusalem; the Israeli Ministry of Justice; your local politicians; asking them to intervene and condemn such injustice and disrespect for the rule of law. Organize events in your community to highlight the Hares Boys case and the situation of hundreds of other Palestinian children who are being kept in occupation prisons.
Do not stay silent in the face of what is not right.