JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli lawmakers voted to impose longer jail terms on people caught throwing rocks at civilian cars and roads.
The Knesset passed the bill on its second and third readings on Monday night by a vote of 69 to 17.
Under the new law, rock throwers can be sentenced to up to 20 years in jail if it is proven that they intended to cause injury, and 10 years if harmful intent is not proven. Also, a prison sentence of five years can be levied for throwing a rock at a police officer or police car.
“Today justice has been done,” said Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party after the vote. “For years terrorists have been evading punishment and responsibility. The tolerance shown to terrorists ends today. A stone thrower is a terrorist, and only a proper punishment can be a deterrent.”
The law does not cover the West Bank, which is under Israeli military law, and where Palestinians frequently throw rocks at Israeli civilian cars.
The Arab Joint List party in a statement called the new law a form of “collective punishment” and said it was meant to “oppress the Palestinians’ civilian and popular struggle.”
At least three Israelis, including a baby, have been killed in the West Bank after rocks were thrown at the cars they were riding in, and others have been seriously injured.
Earlier this month, a Palestinian teen was shot in the back and killed after throwing a rock at an army vehicle. Col. Yisrael Shomer said he felt threatened by the teen in the July 3 incident near the West Bank city of Ramallah, but a surveillance camera showed that the teen was shot as he ran away. The vehicle’s windshield was shattered in the attack.