Israeli Justice: Throw a Rock in Palestine, Get 20 Years in Prison

Op-Ed by Sydney Barakat
July 24, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) As Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday, Israeli parliamentarians approved a law this week that would make it possible for Palestinian stone throwers to be sentenced up to 20 years in prison. The article explains that “Under the law, stone throwers could face 10 years in prison and up to 20 years if determined that they intended to seriously harm the occupants in a vehicle.”

All the while, Israel can breach international law and commit a multitude of war crimes, sometimes without so much as a slap on the wrist. The Israeli government can abuse, unlawfully detain, humiliate, torture and kill Palestinian civilians. It can destroy Palestinian homes, businesses, and places of worship and nobody blinks. But God forbid Palestinians defend themselves and their land with  stones.

Put yourself in a Palestinian’s shoes:

You’re on your land—the land your parents raised you on, the land where your parents were raised and their parents before them. The village around you is crumbling. You’ve witnessed one Israeli airstrike after another. You’ve been awakened at night by the sound of bombs and gunfire. Your uncles and cousins have either been beaten, killed, or imprisoned by the Israeli government or extremist settlers—maybe even your mother, your father, and your siblings, too. You can see bulldozers demolishing your neighbor’s house. Much of your family and many of your friends have been displaced, as well.

You’re living— or just existing— amidst utter chaos.

Then one day you see an IDF tank not far from where you’re standing. It’s approaching you. You think of all the things—in a split second—that the Israeli government has done to you, your friends, your family, and your home. You think of the atrocities that they have committed against your people. You know what they think of you— they see you as a savage—less than human and not worthy of the same life that they’re able to live on the other side of the wall. Past experience tells you that they are coming to harass you or worse, and there’s no time to second guess. So what do you do? You pick up a stone and throw it in their direction.

You’re trying to make a statement more than you’re attempting to do any damage. You are a human while they are humans armed with tanks, guns, and batons—everything that can destroy you. But you are saying something by throwing that stone, because it’s not as though they would listen otherwise. Your gesture is the the last resort—the final option to symbolize your defiance against their occupation and everything they’ve done to establish it. You are saying, “I am here. I am Palestinian. I am human. I deserve life. This is my land, my village. Hear me, look at me. I exist.” But in their eyes you are the terrorist and it’s easy to paint you as such to the rest of the world. You’re a Palestinian, an Arab. Your role is, ultimately, to be non-existent, and until that happens, you will remain the primalistic savage— the “anti-Semite”— the terrorist.

To add insult to injury, you can now be imprisoned for a decade (or two) as they decide your fate and protect it under a law established through a false democracy. Fair, isn’t it?

Now, back to reality.

As a human being, setting aside all predispositions, ask yourself, “If I were Palestinian, is not throwing a stone the least I would do, too?” And furthermore, in doing so, is it truly worthy of being thrown in a cage until they decide to let you out?

I urge you to seek an understanding of the Palestinian plight. Think not of what you’ve been told of Israel’s (self-determined) righteousness, but instead with your heart and with an open-mind. If you imagined yourself in a Palestinian’s shoes, you would empathize deeply with their struggle.

This article (Israeli Justice: Throw a Rock in Palestine, Get 20 Years in Prison) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sydney Barakat and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email

Sydney Barakat joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in January of 2015. Her topics of interest include foreign policy, the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Islamic affairs, American politics, food safety, public health, police brutality, law enforcement reformation, and prison reformation. Living at her place of birth, she currently resides in Fullerton, California. Learn more about Barakat here!