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TEL AVIV — Israel's cabinet has approved a change to its criminal code allowing prison sentences of up to 20 years for people who throw rocks at vehicles. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the change, which still has to go before the Knesset, was designed to "restore quiet and security throughout Jerusalem," which has seen almost daily clashes over entrance restrictions at the Temple Mount. "Israel is taking vigorous action against terrorists and those who throw stones, fire bombs and fireworks," Netanyahu said at a meeting Sunday where the change was approved, according to a statement from his office.
Ayed Abu Qtesh, of the non-governmental organization Children International Palestine, claimed the law is aimed to oppress Palestinian children in Jerusalem. "The new law will affect the children mainly because most of the stone throwers are children," Qtesh told NBC News. "If a child throws a stone in East Jerusalem, he will be sentenced for several months. But now, with the new law, the minimum sentence he will get is five years."