Israel advances bill increasing stone-throwers' sentences

A Palestinian youth uses a sling shot to throw stones at members of the Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on April 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Jerusalem (AFP) - An Israeli ministerial legal committee approved Sunday a bill that could see protesters who throw stones at moving vehicles jailed for up to 10 years.

The bill, which faces a series of parliament readings before coming into effect, would amend an existing law that allows stone-throwers to be jailed for 20 years, but only if it can be proven they intended to inflict harm.

The new version would enable 10 years imprisonment for "throwing stones or other objects at travelling vehicles in a manner that could endanger the passenger's safety" or harm the vehicle, the bill read.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party, who presented the bill and heads the ministerial committee for legislation that approved it, noted that stone-throwers were currently receiving "very soft punishments compared to their crimes," since intent was difficult to prove.

"The amendment to the law effectively places the responsibility on the stone-thrower and not the prosecutor," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Anyone who throws stones at cars or people has to assume someone will get hurt."

The same amendment was passed by the Israeli cabinet in November under centrist then-justice minister Tzipi Livni but was not finalised by the time the parliament was dissolved ahead of the March 17 snap elections.

Palestinians target Israeli cars on West Bank roads with stones on a near-daily basis, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the West Bank and east Jerusalem tend to involve stone-throwing.