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Report: Israeli army to use live fire against fireworks protesters

March 5, 2013 8:38 P.M. (Updated: March 7, 2013 8:23 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces will respond to fireworks shot toward them with live ammunition at the lower legs of protesters, an army official said Tuesday.

"Palestinian protestors are increasingly shooting fireworks recently. These fireworks can cause severe burns or blindness in case of a direct hit," an army official told Israel's Maariv newspaper.

"We see these as dangerous weapons rather than toys," he said. "Palestinians don't use guns because they know our response, so they use it as an alternative and we can not allow that because when fired at a close range they can do serious damage."

Maariv described the fireworks, adapted to be let off through metal pipes, as a new symbol in the latest wave of protests.

It said an incident at Qalandia checkpoint, in which a Palestinian protester was shot dead by Israeli forces, was the catalyst for the Israeli army's decision to respond to fireworks in the same way soldiers respond to Molotov cocktails, by shooting at protesters' lower bodies.

Soldiers thought the protester was firing a gun, but he was actually shooting fireworks, it said.

The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem plans to file a complaint against the Israeli army's increased use of live ammunition against protesters.

"We noticed an increase in critical conditions in the last few days, of which four cases were transferred to Hadassah hospital because of the use of live ammunition, which can be deadly or paralyzing," a representative of B'Tselem told Ma'an.

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