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Israel court convicts Palestinian 14-year-old of attempted murder

Attorney for boy who stabbed two Israelis last October said he did it because he 'just wanted to scare Jews so they'd stop killing Palestinians'
Ahmed Manasra (C), a 14-year old Palestinian convicted of attempting to murder two Israelis (AFP)

A Jerusalem court convicted a 14-year-old Palestinian on Tuesday of the attempted murder of two Israelis in a knife attack last October that was one of the most high-profile of a recent wave of violence.

The Jerusalem District Court also found Ahmed Manasra guilty of inflicting severe injury in the attack he carried out at the age of 13 along with a 15-year-old cousin, officials said.

The two stabbed and seriously wounded a 20-year-old and a 12-year-old boy in the Israeli settlement neighbourhood of Pisgat Zeev in annexed east Jerusalem, which is considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Hassan, the cousin, was shot dead by security forces, while Ahmed was hit by a car as they fled.

The trial was held behind closed doors because of Manasra's age.

The Jerusalem district prosecutor stressed "the fact the defendant is a minor does not change in the least the risk and danger his actions caused," the justice ministry said.

Manasra, an east Jerusalem resident, was the youngest Palestinian to be convicted by an Israeli civil court in the wave of violence that erupted last October. 

A 12-year-old Palestinian girl from the West Bank, convicted of attempted murder by a military court as part of a plea bargain and sentenced to four months, was released from prison in April.

Manasra's attorney Lea Tsemel told AFP that "the evidence shows he did not want to kill at all and didn't murder anyone. He said he just wanted to scare Jews so they'd stop killing Palestinians."

Tsemel contrasted the attempted murder charges Manasra was convicted of with the manslaughter charge levelled against Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is accused of shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant as he lay on the ground in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron.

She accused the legal system of being "dragged into discriminating between Jews and Arabs."

Manasra's attack took place at the beginning of the a wave of Palestinian violence targeting Israeli civilians and security personnel, primarily in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Footage released by Israeli authorities in the wake of the attack purported to show the cousins - knives in hand - following the Israeli victims.

It also showed Ahmed in the aftermath of the attack lying bleeding on the ground while Israeli onlookers shout abuse.

The incident sparked a propaganda skirmish, with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas claiming he had been "executed" while Israel scrambled to release video of him sitting up and eating in a Jerusalem hospital bed.

Since last October, 204 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed in the violence, according to an AFP count.

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.

Manasra's sentencing will begin on July 11, a justice ministry spokeswoman said.

The district prosecutor said he would "seek a severe sentence, within the law."

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