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HRW slams Israel's 'indiscriminate firing' after researcher wounded

Oct. 11, 2015 5:09 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 20, 2015 12:34 P.M.)
Israeli officers run past burning tires during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the Issawiya neighborhood, in East Jerusalem on October 24, 2014. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Human Rights Watch on Sunday slammed the Israeli army's "indiscriminate or deliberate firing" on protesters and observers that pose no threat, several days after one of the group's researchers was injured at a demonstration.

"Indiscriminate or deliberate firing on observers and demonstrators who pose no imminent threat violates the international standards that bind Israeli security forces," Kenneth Roth, executive director of the international rights group said in a statement.

"It is particularly troubling when those seeking to monitor the security forces' conduct are among the casualties," he said,

On Tuesday, Israeli forces shot and wounded an HRW research assistant as she was observing a demonstration outside of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, the organization said.

The research assistant was observing the conduct of Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces, "in the context of the current escalation in violence that began with the shooting death of an Israeli couple on Oct. 1," the statement said.

The statement said that at least seven protesters were wounded at the same demonstration.

The research assistant, who also works as a journalist, was reportedly observing and photographing the demonstration and was wearing a flak jacket marked “press,” when she was shot.

"Two rubber-coated steel bullets of the type used by Israeli forces struck her flak jacket, one in her back and one that deflected off her upper torso and injured her jaw," the statement said.

"One of the rubber bullets was recovered in her clothing," the statement said, adding that "a third bullet, apparently live, either grazed her hand or exploded nearby, sending shrapnel into her hand."

According to the injured research assistant, Israeli forces opened fire "without warning."

She was treated at the Ramallah hospital and later released.

The research assistant told HRW that before the shooting, she "was not aware of any Israeli forces in the vicinity, other than those at a checkpoint approximately 500 meters away from where she stood."

She said that "between 100 and 200 protesters and observers were milling around, including families and young people, some of whom were singing."

A medic who witnessed the shooting, Fadi Asmar, 27, told HRW that he had brought his five-year-old son to the protest after the earlier clashes had ended.

"We didn't see any soldiers near us," HRW documented him as saying. "That's why we felt safe. No one was throwing rocks or anything. Soldiers just started shooting."

HRW said the organization has asked the Israeli authorities to investigate the shooting into the crowd of demonstrators.
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