Cathy O’Toole MP – speech about Dima, who at 12yrs old is believed to have been the youngest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails

photo of Cathy O'Toole MP
November 29, 2016

I rise to speak about the consequences of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank—a young Palestinian girl arrested and tried by military courts. Israel has two separate legal systems: civilian law, which prohibits jailing anyone under 14, and military law, which Palestinians are subject to, which allows people as young as 12 to be jailed.

Full speech

Ms O’TOOLE (Herbert) (13:48): I rise to speak about the consequences of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank—a young Palestinian girl arrested and tried by military courts. Israel has two separate legal systems: civilian law, which prohibits jailing anyone under 14, and military law, which Palestinians are subject to, which allows people as young as 12 to be jailed.

Dima al-Wawi was arrested just two months after her 12th birthday, probably the youngest Palestinian tried and imprisoned through the military courts. Dima was arrested at the entrance of an Israeli settlement near her village. An Israeli settler reportedly took a knife from her and called the soldiers. She was interrogated twice that day, with no lawyer or family member present. She accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to attempted voluntary manslaughter and illegal possession of a knife and was convicted to 4½ months in jail. According to Defence of Children International, it is common for Palestinian children to ‘maintain their innocence, but plead guilty as it is the fastest way to get out of the system’. Trials can be delayed for almost a year, and bail is rarely granted.

After sentencing, Dima, like nearly 60 per cent of Palestinian child detainees, was imprisoned within Israel, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Upon release, Dima provided a harrowing account of her experience, which indicates that she was subject to long interrogations and threats by soldiers, such as: ‘You will be convicted, Dima, and it will be a life imprisonment.’ (Time expired)

Link to parliamentary Hansard

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