The two-month sentence for Malak al-Khatib, who was accused of stone-throwing and possession of a knife, has unleashed a wave of solidarity and support among Palestinians.
“My heart broke when I saw her in court, cuffed and shackled,” her mother Khawla al-Khatib told AFP from her home in the town of Beitin near Ramallah.
“I brought in a coat for her to wear because it was cold, but the judge refused to let her have it,” the distressed 50-year-old said.
Israeli forces arrest about 1,000 children every year in the occupied West Bank, often on charges of stone-throwing, according to rights group Defense for Children International Palestine.
But the case of Malak has brought countless media organizations flocking to her family’s door and attracted more public attention than most.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club estimates that 200 Palestinian minors are held in Israeli prisons, but only four are girls, and Malak is the youngest.
Amani Sarahna, spokeswoman for the Ramallah-based organization, said it was the first time in years that four female minors were held in Israeli jails, out of the 6,500 Palestinians incarcerated.
Following Malak’s arrest, the Palestinian leadership sent a letter to the United Nations denouncing the Israeli practice of “seizing children in the dead of night”, detaining Palestinian children “for extended periods of time” and subjecting them to “psychological and physical torture.”