Court reduces Palestinian teenager’s sentence

Ahmad Manasra, center, after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a stabbing attack in October last year, Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2017

Court reduces Palestinian teenager’s sentence

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Supreme Court has reduced the sentence of a Palestinian teenager who became a symbol of a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2015.
Ahmed Manasra, now 15, was sentenced to 12 years last November after being found guilty of the attempted murder of two Israelis, a 20-year-old and a 12-year-old boy, in a stabbing attack with his cousin in a Jewish settlement in annexed east Jerusalem.
The sentence was reduced to nine and a half years by the court, said his lawyer Leah Tsemel.
A 180,000 shekel ($47,000) fine will remain in place, she said.
“It is not the best we wanted, but that’s what we got,” she said.
At the beginning of a wave of violence that began in October 2015, then 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan entered the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev and stabbed the two Israelis.
Hassan was shot dead by security forces.
The stabbings led to a propaganda war between Palestinians and Israelis, sparked by surveillance footage later released of the incident.
Footage of a bloodied Ahmed, who was hit by a car as they fled, on the ground as Israeli Jews shouted abuse at him after the attack sparked anger among Palestinians.
Since October 2015, 293 Palestinians or Arab Israelis and 47 Jewish Israelis have been killed, according to an AFP toll.
Israel says the majority of Palestinians were attackers, though others were killed at protests or during raids.
In a separate development, figures from World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the Palestinian Authority had dramatically reduced financial support for Gazans seeking medical care outside the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The number of financial approvals from June, the most recent number available, was 80 percent lower than the monthly average for 2016, WHO said in a statement.
Just 477 Gazans were given financial approval to travel for treatment during the month, down from 1,883 in June the previous year.
The Palestinian Authority has officially denied any change in policy, but President Mahmour Abbas has been seeking to squeeze Gaza’s rulers Hamas through a series of measures including reducing electricity payments.
Punitive measures
“We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation,” he said recently.
In a statement to AFP, health ministry official in Gaza Medhat Muhesan condemned the “punitive measures.”
“We need international organizations to pressure Abbas’s government to stop the punitive measures against Gaza,” he said.
Hamas seized Gaza from the president’s Fatah party in 2007 and the two have been at loggerheads since.
Gazans seeking medical care outside of the strip must first apply to the Palestinian Authority for permission and financial aid, before seeking Israeli permits.
Poverty is widespread in the enclave, with unemployment at some 42 percent, while advanced medical equipment is lacking.
Last month, the UN’s top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories warned politicizing medical care was unacceptable.
“The Palestinian Authority has been taking certain measures to at least slow access to proper health care,” Robert Piper said.
“These sorts of measures for us are not acceptable.”


Erdogan: Turkey will drive Syrian forces back from Idlib posts this week

Updated 52 min 39 sec ago

Erdogan: Turkey will drive Syrian forces back from Idlib posts this week

  • ‘We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding (Syrian government forces) by the end of this month, one way or another’
  • Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a ‘de-escalation zone’ in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran

ANKARA: Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in northwest Syria’s Idlib region by end-February, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, despite advances by the Russian-backed government forces.
Erdogan said he hoped the issue of using air space in Idlib will be resolved soon. Russia controls the region’s air space and has been bombing Turkey-backed rebels on a daily basis in support of an offensive by the Syrian government forces.
“We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding (Syrian government forces) by the end of this month, one way or another,” Erdogan told his party’s MPs in a speech.
Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military seized the town of Nairab in Idlib this week, according to rebel and Turkish sources, but Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces continue to made advances elsewhere in the province.
Erdogan first said on Feb. 5 that Assad’s forces must pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by end-February, or Turkey would drive them back.
Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, but several are now behind Syrian government front lines.