On Sunday, the Israeli Ministerial Committee on Legislation passed a bill, that enables justice officials, to hand out tougher sentences to Protesters throwing stones at vehicles.
The same bill was proposed to the Committee on a previous occasion in November, but it did not have time to pass before Parliament dissolved due a political crisis. The proposal was previously promoted by a centrist force, with Tzipi Livni the former justice minister. The recommendation came as a result after the wave of Palestinian protests in Jerusalem in 2014.
Palestinian protesters could risk jail sentences of up to 10 years. In comparison with the new measures, former sentences seem light as prosecutors usually demanded only about 3 months jail time for the same crime.
Although it passed the Ministerial Legal committee, the bill faces several parliament readings in order to take effect.
If it passes these readings, it will amend an existing law which allows prosecutors to demand 20 years in prison for stoning a civilian or police vehicle. The major difference is that the previous law which is to be amended, allowed prosecution only if intent to inflict harm was proven.
Since intent is hard to prove especially when violent protests and mass gatherings take place, the new bill would allow a different interpretation. Considering the safety of the people in the vehicles as the main felony, prosecutors could have more success in obtaining jail-time for the defendants.
The hope on the part of the bill’s presenters is that more unfavorable sentences, will deter violent protests from happening. Also Longer jail time, can keep citizens prone to committing acts of violence, in check.
Not all sides agree, since protesting is a right of every free citizen even if they can sometimes turn to a more violent nature. Protest can easily turn violent for a number of reason not all of them can be controlled by the participant. Police brutality and tensions between protesters and the general population can arise, especially if they are a minority in the region, either religious or racial.
The Palestinian people have protest repetitively, tensions with the Israeli population are high, and the continuing presence of Hamas due to popular support in Palestine’s government has done a lot of damage to the relations with world powers and the U.N.
However palestinians are not the only people that can be targeted by the new law, Ethiopian Jews have recently protested and incidents of violence in connection with their demonstrations were reported around the world.
Image Source: jewishpress.com