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Study: Rubber bullets ‘inaccurate’, should not be used for ‘crowd control’

An Israeli soldier fires rubber bullets at Palestinian protesters in the West Bank on 15 May 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Some three in every 100 people injured by rubber-coated steel bullets dies as a result, a team of US-based researchers has found, according to the Associated Foreign Press.

A statement released by the team today in the BMJ Open journal revealed the statistics after analysing 26 scientific reports published on injury, disability and death caused by rubber bullets between 1990 and 2017 in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the United States, India, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey and Nepal.

The results showed that three per cent of the sample assessed during that period died due to their injuries, with many more left injured for life.

“Some 300 (15.5 per cent) of all survivors were left with permanent disability as a direct result of the rubber bullet impact they sustained – usually to the head and neck,” they stated.

“Blindness, and removal of the spleen, or a section of the bowel as a result of abdominal injuries, accounted for most of this disability.”

Rubber-coated steel bullets are perpetually used in Israel against Palestinians, including young children. Those injured are often unable to study, work or resume their daily lives.

Read: Israel army exonerates itself over killing of Palestinian wheelchair-user

Despite Israel purporting that rubber-coated steel bullets, also known as kinetic impact projectiles (KIP), are a non-lethal crowd-control mechanism, the report states that the measure should not be used in such scenarios.

Given their inherent inaccuracy, potential for misuse and associated health consequences of severe injury and death, KIPs do not appear to be appropriate weapons for use in crowd-control settings.

The researchers concluded that “appropriate use of force and alternatives to weapons must be considered in all contexts,” and appealed for the urgent creation of “international guidelines” on the use of crowd-control weapons.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, Israel has injured 634 people with rubber-coated steel bullets in the eight days following protests at the announcement of US President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A further 2,500 were injured as a result of other forms of Israeli aggression including the use of live bullets and tear gas in the past two weeks.

Read: Israeli troops injure 15 Palestinians in West Bank

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