Israeli authorities have defended the actions of a police officer who opened fire on a Palestinian couple as they stood in their own home behind a closed window, reported Haaretz.
The incident occurred on 1 November, 2015, when “municipal inspectors backed by a large group of policemen” entered Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem “to collect debts”.
The couple, Nadia and Mazen Abu Humus, “were watching from a first-floor window, which Nadia asked Mazen to close”, reported Haaretz.
“Sometime after he did so,” the paper continued, “a black, sponge-tipped bullet shattered the window and hit him in the face. Fragments of glass hit Nadia in the face and inflicted deep cuts in her eye, which needed stitches.”
After the couple sued the state for $28,000 in damages, the state told the court this week that the police officer’s conduct was “proportionate and reasonable”.
The state claimed that the police officer – who was acquitted in an internal disciplinary process – had shouted at Nadia to move away from the window, and only shot a sponge-tipped bullet at the window after she was perceived to pose “a clear and present danger” to the forces in the street.
The plaintiffs’ suit, filed by attorney Eitay Mack, rejected any claim that the couple’s “behaviour” had somehow justified the police officer’s actions.
“It’s impossible to think of any logical reason why policemen should shoot at a closed window despite knowing that the couple was standing behind it,” according to the suit.
“One of the policemen shouted at the plaintiffs to close the window, and they did. Immediately after they closed the window, and with no justification whatsoever, one of the policemen shot a black sponge-tipped bullet at the window.”
“The bullet went through the screen and shattered the glass,” the suit continued. “As a result, many shards of glass penetrated the plaintiffs’ faces, and both of them were full of blood.”
According to Mack, for some Israeli forces “any non-Jewish resident of East Jerusalem is a potential enemy, and therefore, also a potential target.”
Haaretz noted that “in 2014, the police replaced their blue sponge-tipped bullets with black ones that are heavier and more dangerous. Since then, dozens of Jerusalem residents have been wounded by sponge-tipped bullets, some of them seriously” – including one fatality.
“To date,” the paper continued, “not a single indictment has been filed against a policeman for shooting sponge-tipped bullets.”