Israel: Police to ‘legitimize’ killing of Palestinian citizens in new open-fire rules

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  October 5, 2023 

New measure seeks to allow officers to use live fire against Palestinian protesters in events similar to 2021 riots.

Israeli authorities are seeking to allow the use of live fire by police to disperse mass protests held by Palestinian citizens, the country’s national security minister has said. 

A report by Israeli broadcaster Kan 11 on Tuesday revealed that police and the national security ministry are working to relax rules of engagement in some scenarios at time of “emergencies”. 

An example of this would be the potential blocking of roads by Palestinians that could prevent military convoys from reaching their destination.

The rule change has been discussed in recent months as part of lessons Israeli authorities say they are drawing from the events of May 2021, in which inter-communal violence gripped binational cities.

The new measure would further disregard recommendations made by the 2003 Or Commission, which found “the use of live ammunition is not a means for dispersing a crowd” and that Israeli authorities were discriminating against Palestinian citizens. 

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, voiced his support for the move on Wednesday. 

“It is very important to change the instructions so that our policemen and soldiers can fill their role without risking their lives,” the far-right minister told Kan 11.

“It is imperative that police officers find it easier to respond with force to those who pose a threat to their lives,” he added. 

He also clarified that this change is not intended for use on Jewish Israeli protesters in Tel Aviv, but rather for a potential scenario similar to the events of May 2021. 

Adalah, an independent human rights organization and legal centre, condemned the move.

The general director of the Haifa-based group, Hassan Jabreen, said: “Police officers already systematically violate the existing police regulations that authorize the use of live ammunition in cases of imminent threat with blanket impunity.”

This new measure, he added, is “designed to legitimize the killing of Palestinians even when they clearly do not pose any danger”. 


Israel: police want to use live ammunition against Palestinian protesters

Middle East Monitor  /  October 5, 2023

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 Israeli Palestinian 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 Palestinians in cities with mixed Palestinian-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.

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 instill in their officers the understanding that the Arab [Palestinian] 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 Palestinian Israeli citizens through the UN and other international bodies in light of any escalation in the state’s deadly policies against them.