As the Palestinians move forward with their plans to unilaterally declare statehood in September, the army has decided to procure new non-lethal weapons that will help disperse large demonstrations and marches that could break out in the West Bank and along Israel’s borders in the North.
Last month, the IDF decided to begin distributing throughout the infantry a new receiver for the standard-issue M-16 semi-automatic rifle that can enable it to shoot a 0.22 round instead of the usual 5.56 mm. bullet. The smaller rounds are not as lethal when fired from a distance.
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In addition, the IDF has purchased impact rounds for snipers for use with Remington M-24 7.62 mm. rifles. Impact rounds are usually made of non-lead materials and do not penetrate skin but deal a painful blow.
The Ground Forces Command has also instituted new rules of engagement for snipers who will be deployed to stop demonstrations and marches, including at what distance they are allowed to open fire.
The new equipment is in addition to other riot gear the IDF has purchased ahead of September including tear gas, rubber bullets and protective equipment. The military is also buying new technological systems such as the “Scream,” a device that emits penetrating bursts of sound that leave rioters dizzy and nauseated, as well as the “Skunk Bomb,” which contains a foul-smelling liquid to be sprayed on rioters.
“The possibility of large demonstrations after September is at the forefront of the military’s activities these days,” one officer said this week. “The entire military is focused on it.”
The Central Command’s Lachish Training Base is being used as the main instruction center for military units, including reservists, which will be deployed in the West Bank and along the borders, particularly near Lebanon and Syria, to prevent mass infiltrations and violations of Israel’s sovereignty.
Several weeks ago, the IDF held a two-day workshop for all brigade, battalion and company commanders serving in the Central Command, the Southern Command and the Northern Command to begin preparing them for the expected demonstrations following the United Nations General Assembly session in September.
The commanders received intelligence briefings on what to expect if the
Palestinians declare statehood. Current IDF assessments refer to the
possibilities of a large outbreak of violence, or of sporadic, large and
nonviolent marches toward Jewish settlements or IDF checkpoints.
The army is also preparing for the possibility that large demonstrations
will break out throughout the West Bank and along the borders with
Syria and Lebanon, the likes of which it faced in May and in June.
The procurement of the new equipment comes after the Ground Forces
Command completed writing a new operational doctrine for containing the
demonstrations, marches and riots. The work on the doctrine was begun
several months ago by Brig.-Gen. Miki Edelstein, the IDF’s chief
infantry and paratrooper officer, and dictates the way commanders are
supposed to counter and contain march-protests.