After facing trial for nearly three years in Israeli military courts, five Palestinian teenagers were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Ali Shamlawi, Muhammed Kleib, Muhammed Suleiman, Ammar Souf and Tamer Souf, collectively known as the “Hares Boys” — named after their village Hares — were charged with 20 counts of attempted murder.
They were arrested in March 2013 for allegedly throwing stones on a major highway connecting illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Tel Aviv. The teens’ actions allegedly caused a road accident that, Israeli authorities maintain, led to the hospitalization of settler’s 4-year-old daughter named Adele who died of her injuries in nearly two years later in February 2015.
However, details of the accident are disputed and very controversial.
For instance, the five teens were arrested during night raids on the villages of Hares and Kifl Hares, among 19 other boys ranging from 16 to 17 years old. They were interrogated and tortured after which Shamlawi, Kleib, Suleiman, Ammar and Tamer confessed to pelting rocks in military custody. Also, the boys were detained in Meggido, a notorious adult prison in Israel without due process.
Although the teens later retracted their statements, citing torture, the Israeli military court used them as evidence nevertheless, along with dubious insurance claims made by 20 Israeli drivers that their cars were damaged by rocks that day. There were no eyewitnesses.
Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported relatives of the teenagers paid a fine of 30,000 shekels ($7,700) otherwise, they were told, the boys’ sentences could have been prolonged to at least 25 years instead of 15.