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Group: Israeli police reveal new regulations on use of live fire against Palestinians

July 5, 2016 7:26 P.M. (Updated: July 6, 2016 2:40 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers hold a position east of the West Bank city of Nablus on Oct. 3, 2015. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police have unveiled new regulations which permit Israeli officers to open fire with live ammunition on Palestinian demonstrators before a non-lethal option is used, a statement released by Israeli rights group Adalah on Tuesday revealed.

According to the statement, the new police regulations allow officers “to open fire [with live ammunition] directly on an individual who clearly appears to be throwing or is about to throw a firebomb, or who is shooting or is about to shoot fireworks, in order to prevent endangerment."

Stone throwing using a slingshot -- a common scene at Palestinian protests -- was also cited as an act that could justify a police officer using live ammunition on demonstrators.

The new regulations, which were revealed to Adalah in June following a petition submitted to Israeli courts to make the regulations public, reportedly split from “existing general guidelines” which restricted the use of deadly weapons by officers until other non-lethal measures were taken and only when danger to the officer could not be avoided, the statement said.

Adalah attorney Mohammad Bassam, who had prepared the petition, slammed the new regulations, stating that they would allow Israeli police to act in an “unchecked and criminal manner,” adding that the chances of an Israeli officer’s life being threatened by stone throwing or firebombs were “extremely slim.”

“The new regulations relate to such actions as if they were acts of war and grant legitimacy to light-trigger fingers [among officers], thus posing a fatal danger to the lives of young Palestinians,” he said.

“In addition, it is clear that the regulations do not refer to just any stone throwers but that they were written specifically regarding Palestinian youths," Bassam added, referring to Israeli youths who routinely throw stones at Palestinians -- and less often at Israeli police.

Adalah also stated that the police have continued to refuse the release of a significant part of its new open-fire regulations, adding that the group would continue to demand a court hearing to release the rest of the new regulations to the public.

"Following the alteration of the open-fire regulations -- and potentially as a result of such -- there were a number of cases in which it is suspected that police personnel fired lethal weapons in situations that did not justify their use," Bassam concluded in the statement.

Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that Israeli police authorize the use of live ammunition on Palestinian stone throwers in occupied East Jerusalem after an Israeli settler was killed after a Palestinian allegedly threw a rock at his car.

At the time, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem called the authorization “unlawful and immoral.”

“It ignores the deep-seated discrimination in East Jerusalem and the daily violations of the human rights of its Palestinian residents, while using increasingly violent measures against them,” the group said at the time.

Israeli police and soldiers have come under heavy criticism over the past year for what rights groups have referred to as “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians who did not pose an immediate threat or who could have been detained through non-lethal means.

More than 220 Palestinians, a number of whom were from East Jerusalem, have been killed by Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers following a wave of unrest that erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October. Most were killed after allegedly carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks,as well as during clashes, in circumstances which rights groups have said should not have necessitated the use of live ammunition.
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