‘JUSTICE’ Israeli-style was displayed to the world on Thursday when five Palestinian teenagers were sentenced to 15 years in prison by an Israeli military court on the charge of manslaughter.
The case of the five youths, known as the Hares Boys after the occupied West Bank town they come from, attracted international condemnation and a mass campaign for their release ever since they were charged over an incident in March 2013.
This involved a car crash in which a female Israeli settler driving with her children ran into the back of a stationary lorry. One of her children, a daughter, sustained serious injuries and three years after the crash the girl died of those injuries compounded by pneumonia. The driver of the truck told police he had stopped to repair a flat tyre.
Neither in the initial reports of the incident given by the woman and truck driver, nor in the original police investigation, was there any mention of stones being thrown. This changed a few days later when the woman driver claimed she had been hit by a building block thrown at the car and the lorry driver reported he had seen stones at the side of the road.
The Israeli army stormed into Hares arresting nineteen youth aged between 16 and 17 years who were subjected to violent interrogations, solitary confinement and denied any access to lawyers.
Despite the complete lack of evidence that any crime whatsoever had been committed, five of them were charged with twenty counts of murder and five counts of stone-throwing each. Since 2013, the Hares Boys have been held in the notorious Israeli adult Megiddo prison.
On November 26 last year the five were sentenced to 15 years in prison. This sentence was contingent on their families paying a ‘fine’ of 30,000 shekels (£5,305) for each of the boys. This fine had to be paid by January 28th or the sentences would be increased to 25 years each. With the assistance of outside donations, the families were able to raise the money.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops commit acts of murder on a daily basis while armed right-wing settlers roam outside their fortified camps regularly shooting at Palestinians, secure in the knowledge that they will never face prosecution.
The case of the Hares Boys does take the level of legally sanctioned attacks by the state to a new level. It is now perfectly legal under Israeli law for Palestinians to be convicted and jailed for a crime that has not even been committed.
Also, as the defence campaign insisted back in 2013, ‘If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent which would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child or youngster for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.’
The Israelis changed the law on suspected stone-throwing last July making stone-throwers liable to a minimum of 20 years if there was proven intent to cause harm and 10 years for just chucking a stone without any intent.
In September, prime minister Netanyahu went further in allowing Israeli forces to use sniper fire against stone-throwers. Despite mild criticism levelled by the UN and others, the fact remains that the state of Israel exists and continues its illegal occupation and murderous war against the Palestinian people solely through the support of imperialism.
Israel receives more US foreign aid than every other nation in the world combined – in 2014 this amounted to $8.5 million every single day! Financed and armed to the teeth by US and British imperialism and confident of their undying support, Israel is free to carry out its brutal occupation aimed at driving the Palestinians out of their own land forever.
But all the repression has not defeated the Palestinians who are daily fighting back with enormous heroism. In their fight, they have won the support of workers throughout the world. The time has come to step up support by demanding that the TUC immediately organises a complete boycott of all Israeli goods and services.
Above all, this dirty war against Palestinians must be ended by the working class taking action to put an end to imperialism through the organisation of socialist revolutions.