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B'Tselem protests Israel's use of live fire at West Bank protests

Nov. 23, 2012 3:27 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 26, 2012 2:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has written to Israeli army officials protesting the firing of live ammunition against protesters in the West Bank.

Two Palestinians were killed and dozens injured at protests in the West Bank against Israel's war on Gaza.

B'Tselem executive director Jessica Montell demanded that it be made unequivocally clear to soldiers and commanders that there is an absolute prohibition on shooting live ammunition at stone throwers.

"B’Tselem also demanded that crowd control weapons like tear gas and rubber-coated bullets be utilized in accordance with open-fire regulations and in a manner that does not endanger human life," the group said in a statement.

On Saturday, Israeli soldiers shot 31-year-old Rushdi Tamimi in Nabi Saleh. He died in a Ramallah hospital two days later. On Monday, Israeli forces shot dead Hamdi al-Falah, 22, in Hebron.

An investigation by B’Tselem found that al-Falah had pointed a laser pen at the soldiers, and that none of the stone throwers were armed.

Sixteen protesters were hit by live bullets, nine people were hit in the head by rubber-coated steel bullets and seven more were hit in the head by tear gas canisters in the West Bank during Israel's 8-day war on Gaza, B'Tselem said.

A 14-year-old boy was declared clinically dead at al-Ahli hospital in Hebron after an Israeli border policeman fired a tear gas canister at his head, and a 20-year-old man from Bethlehem suffered a fractured skull and cerebral hemorrhaging.

"The serious injuries caused by direct hits from tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets are a direct result of existing practices among security forces, including the unlawful firing of these weapons, which B’Tselem has documented extensively in recent years," the group said.

"Soldiers and border policemen shoot aluminum tear gas canisters directly at people, although military regulations forbid it."

B'Tselem added: "In addition, security forces fire rubber bullets at shorter ranges than permitted in the regulations and in a manner that makes it impossible to avoid injuring sensitive parts of the body.

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