Our organizations express deep concern regarding the recent Israeli judicial policy of imposing excessive criminal sentences targeting Palestinian youth in Occupied East Jerusalem. This policy should be seen within the larger context of other oppressive measures aimed at creating conditions for transfer and collectively punishing Palestinian Jerusalemites for any acts of dissent against Israeli colonial policies.
Our organizations are particularly alarmed about the recent sentencing of young Jerusalemite Abed Dwayat, 20, for 18 years of imprisonment for stone throwing. During 2015, the Israeli government adopted a series of punitive measures, which included excessive sentences targeting stone-throwers and their families. The policy set a minimum sentence of four years and a maximum punishment of 20 years for those convicted. The policy is coupled with other punitive measures including the revocation of residency rights, denial of family unification, punitive house demolitions, and property confiscation. The harsh conditions that Jerusalemites are subjected to call for urgent attention from the international community, and require concrete action to put an end to the serious violations of basic humanitarian and human rights committed against Palestinians.
A “Test Case”: Abed Dwayat, 20, Sur Baher, Occupied East Jerusalem
Abed Dwayat and two others were charged on 15 October 2015 with manslaughter, stone throwing at a vehicle, and the infliction of severe injury. Dwayat was accused of throwing stones with four others at an Israeli vehicle near Sur Baher on 13 September 2015, which allegedly led to a car accident in which the driver died. On 21 November 2016, Abed Dwayat’s attorney was compelled to sign a plea bargain with the Israeli prosecution for 18 years of prison. Israeli prosecutor Lizu Wolfus described the sentence of Dwayat as unprecedented and as “the gravest [sentence] given to someone convicted of manslaughter using a rock.”
Abed’s sentence follows a series of other punitive measures targeting him and his family. On 11 April 2016, Abed’s family house in Sur Baher neighborhood was sealed and effectively confiscated leaving his mother and sister homeless. In addition, Abed’s right to continue residing in Jerusalem was revoked on 19 January 2016 on the ground of “breach of allegiance” to the state of Israel.
The excessive nature of Israel’s imprisonment policy for stone-throwers is likely to violate international standards, as punishments may be imposed after conviction in a fair trial and must be proportional to the seriousness of the crime. Moreover, the revocation of residency rights violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on forcible transfer as well as customary international law provisions requiring states not to render individuals stateless. While Israel basis the revocation on “breach of allegiance”, under international humanitarian law the protected population in the occupied territory does not have a duty of allegiance to the occupying power. Further, the sealing of Abed’s house constitutes an act of collective punishment as it targets his family. Between July 2014 and January 2017, Israel punitively sealed 4 homes and punitively demolished 6 homes in East Jerusalem. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention absolutely prohibits collective penalties and measures of intimidation against protected persons and their property “for an offence [they have] not personally committed.”
Beyond the individual and collective punishment aspects of such administrative Israeli decisions, these punitive measures are part of a general Israeli policy aimed at forcibly displacing Palestinians from Jerusalem. The forcible transfer of a protected population is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and accordingly may amount to a war crime and a crime against humanity under the statute of the International Criminal Court.
The Israeli judicial system is clearly complicit in the implementation of unlawful policies and practices which are in violation of international law, and further ensure the continued impunity of Israeli officials involved in violating the rights of Palestinians. Accordingly, the international community has a duty to address Israel’s failure to fulfill its international obligations and put an end to serious violations of humanitarian and human rights law. As such, we urge the international community to pressure Israel to:
Repeal laws allowing for disproportionate and discriminatory imprisonment sentences on the occupied Palestinian population.
- Immediately end the practice of revoking the residencies of Palestinian Jerusalemites, and reinstate the IDs of individuals whose residency had been taken.
- End the practice of punitive home demolitions and the real and effective confiscation of property, and therefore allow the return of the Dwayat family and others to their home. Immediately provide housing and reparations for those whose houses have been demolished or irreversibly destroyed by the Israeli Occupying Forces.
- End the ongoing policy of its suppression of Palestinians and other Israeli policies that result in the forcible transfer of Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem.
 Community Action Center (Al-Quds University), Al-Haq, BADIL, Addameer.
The two others, Waleed Atrash and Mohammad Abu Kaf, also had their residency punitively revoked. They are still awaiting judgment.
 According to section 11(a)(2) of the 1952 Entry into Israel Law, the Minister of Interior is allowed to revoke the residency of Israeli residents at his discretion. This new criterion (to revoke residency on the ground of “breach of allegiance” to the state of Israel) was first used in 2006 against three elected members of Parliament and the previous minister of Jerusalem, who filed a petition to question the legality of such measures. The petition is still pending. For more information see HCJ 7803/06 Abu Arafehet. al. and HaMoked, “Re: Decision according to section 11(a) of the Entry into Israel Law: Your client Mr. Dawiat, I.D. No.”. (19 Jan 2016). Available online:
Article 8 of Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
 Article 68(3) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 45 of the Hague Regulations.