Israeli policemen detain an Arab youth during clashes in the southern town of Rahat.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police deployed new, more dangerous anti-riot weapons months before establishing guidelines for their use, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
In a letter sent to Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein earlier this week, ACRI says that black foam-tipped bullets were used by police in riot dispersal in east Jerusalem back in September, even though guidelines on their use were only published by the Police Operations Branch in January.
The ACRI letter quotes an autopsy by Palestinian doctors which determined that a 16-year-old Palestinian boy died after he was hit in the head by one of the black foam-tipped bullets during a riot on September 7. The report also cites testimony from four Palestinian youths who suffered partial vision loss after they were shot by the bullets.
The bullets are heavier and are known to cause more damage than the blue sponge-tipped bullets which have been in use by police for years.
The ACRI letter says that on October 27, 2014 it wrote to the Jerusalem District Police about riot control methods in east Jerusalem, and in November was told by the district’s legal counsel, Attorney Michael Frankenberg, that “in response to the severe public disturbances police have to deal with and the threats to human life and property they pose, in recent months police used black rubber bullets.
The use of such bullets was done after they received the required approval in keeping with Israel Police regulations.”
Police later sent to the ACRI a copy of their regulations on the use of the new black bullets, which was dated January 1, 2015. The regulations specify that only officers of the Border Police’s special operations unit who have gone through the requisite training can fire the new rounds, and that all others must get special approval from the head of the Operations Branch.
It also notes that the black foam-tipped bullets are only used in the course of the most severe disturbances, and must only be fired at the lower body and may not be used against minors, the elderly or pregnant women.
Police have stated in response to the letter that the regulations issued on January 1 were merely an update version of the original ones.