Israeli judiciary has dropped the "terrorism" charges against Ahmad Manasra, who has been unlawfully detained for seven years by Israeli soldiers under horrific circumstances and is currently suffering from serious mental health problems, The New Arab news website said in a report late Wednesday.
Manasra's hearing was held at the Beer Sabaa (Beersheva) district court earlier on the same day amid growing calls for his release.
Manasra was arrested by Israeli forces in 2015 when he was 13 years old for his alleged involvement in a knife attack carried out by his 15-year-old cousin, Hasan Manasra, in an East Jerusalem neighborhood. Hasan Manasra was shot dead by Israeli police, while Ahmad Manasra was seriously injured by an Israeli mob and run over by an Israeli driver, fracturing his skull and internal bleeding.
Ahmad Manasra was initially sentenced to 12 years in prison, later reduced to nine years, for being with his cousin, who allegedly stabbed two Israeli settlers near the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev in occupied East Jerusalem, after completing his treatment in the hospital. Despite not participating in the attack, which the courts acknowledged, Ahmad Manasra was charged with attempted murder.
Palestinian media had released footage showing Jerusalem police questioning the young suspect. In the video released by Palestine's Maan News Agency and which is likely to raise further controversy, police officers show Ahmad Manasra footage of him and his cousin wielding knives and chasing a man through the streets of the Pisgat Zeev settlement. One of the officers shouts at Manasra, "Is this you, this person?" as the teen cries and says he does not remember.
"Manasra’s lawyers have appealed to the court against a special prison committee’s rejection of Manasra’s earlier request to have his case reviewed by a parole committee after he had served six years on his nine-year sentence," Al-Jazeera reported Wednesday, adding that according to regulations, prisoners who have served two-thirds of their sentences are eligible for this review.
“These are all attempts to try and change the conditions he is in, even if we get him out only a few days earlier,” reported Al-Jazeera, quoting Manasra's uncle.
Calling for support for Ahmad Manasra on social media, the campaign #FreeAhmadManasra was launched by the Palestine Global Mental Health Network in conjunction with legal experts, children’s rights activists and prisoners' rights groups to raise awareness of his tragic case and to invite Israel to put an end to its inhuman acts.
“Ahmad Manasra was imprisoned in conditions unbefitting of a child and alongside him, truth, justice and humanity were foreclosed as well. We want to attest to the fact that Ahmad has been subject to continuous punishment and abuse, multiple physical, psychological and social torture,” said the Palestine Global Mental Health Network in a statement.
Bilal Odeh, one of the campaign’s organizers and a social and psychological expert, told Al-Jazeera that Manasra’s mental health is “highly damaged as a result of the tremendous pressure that was placed on him since his violent arrest and the violations of his right as a child."
"The Israeli army has imprisoned over 12,000 Palestinian minors since 2000. The majority of them were accused of throwing stones, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison under military law," according to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) based in Ramallah.