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Israel: police want to use live ammunition against Palestinian protesters

October 5, 2023 at 12:39 pm

Medical teams intervene in a Palestinian who was injured during the demonstration that has been going on for a week against Israeli forces’ violations towards Al-Aqsa Mosque in Gaza Strip on 26 September 2023 [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s police force and the National Security Ministry are seeking a change to the rules of engagement to allow the use of live fire to disperse Palestinian protesters, Kan Channel 11 reported on Wednesday. The change is aimed particularly at Arab-Israeli protesters under the pretext that they could block roads used by army convoys in any future armed engagement with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

According to Kan, the matter has been discussed during recent reviews of the lessons to be learnt from days of protests by Arabs in cities with mixed Arab-Jewish populations during the Israeli offensive against Gaza in May 2021. The discussion was apparently between Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and the then-director general of the ministry Shlomo Ben Eliyahu, who has recently quit his post.

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The report explained that this action is intended to circumvent the findings of the Or Commission, which was tasked with investigating events in October 2000, during which Israeli police killed 13 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds of others. According to Wafa news agency, the commission concluded that, “The use of live ammunition is not a means for dispersing a crowd.”

The commission, which issued its findings 20 years ago, held that, “The police must instil in their officers the understanding that the Arab public as a whole is not their enemy, and they should not treat it as an enemy.”

A steering committee put together to formulate recommendations for the establishment of a National Guard — a force proposed by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to be deployed in times of ethnic unrest — has also drawn up recommendations for easing live fire rules in a state of emergency, said Kan.

The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) and the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel declared that they would seek protection for Israel’s Arab Palestinian citizens through the UN and other international bodies in light of any escalation in the state’s deadly policies against them.

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