Mandatory minimum sentences for convicted stone-throwers - Amendment No. 120 to the Israeli Penal Code

Criminal Law and Procedures

This new law imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences on persons convicted of stone-throwing or similar acts. The minimum sentence is set at “one-fifth of the maximum sentence” – either 10 or 20 years – which equates to either two or four years. Mandatory minimum sentences fail to account for the individual circumstances of each case.

The new law essentially targets Palestinians (the alleged stone-throwers) who are either citizens of Israel or residents of East Jerusalem, and who are all brought before Israeli civil courts. The law is officially a “temporary order” and is valid for three years. Very few Israeli criminal laws contain mandatory minimum punishments as they remove judges’ discretion in imposing punishment; thus, this new law is a severe measure. In addition, although the majority of the stone-throwers are young people, the law does not allow judges to give reasonable weight to the option of rehabilitation.

The new law follows the earlier enactment of a related law that added a new 10-year maximum sentence for persons convicted of stone-throwing or similar acts without requiring proof of intent to cause harm. The pre-existing maximum sentence of 20 years applies in cases in which the courts rule there was such proof of intent.

Full Text