The Association for Civil Rights in Israel published an open letter to the nation’s police chief Wednesday to denounce what it claims was excessive force undertaken by officers during the east Jerusalem rioting that took place over the past two weeks.

The riots engulfed large swaths of the Shuafat and Beit Hanina neighborhoods following the alleged revenge killing of 16-year-old Shuafat resident Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whose badly burned corpse was found in the Jerusalem Forest on July 2.

The three Jewish suspects arrested in his slaying have since confessed to kidnapping, torturing and murdering him to avenge the killings of the three abducted yeshiva students, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.

According to Ronit Sela, director of ACRI’s East Jerusalem Project, excessive and dangerous force was used against numerous bystanders not directly involved in the rioting.

“Since the riots began in east Jerusalem, our workers have gathered information about police violence and whether they used riot control methods according to protocol, or excessively,” she said, adding that sponge-covered bullets were used in addition to tear gas and stun grenades.

The sponge bullets, she said, resulted in at least three serious injuries, including two men who were shot in the eye, and one woman who was struck in the jaw. Sela said all three wounded were not active participants in the rioting and that one of the men lost and eye, while the woman, a photo journalist, has since undergone extensive surgery to repair her jaw.

“Unfortunately, the man who lost his eye was already blind in his other eye, and now he can’t work and he has two children,” she said.

While conceding that the three were “in a very heated atmosphere,” Sela contended they were still “not in the eye of the storm.”

“The police chief should understand that there is a real problem with riot-control officers and Border Police, and some of the examples we cite are criminal instances,” she said. “Such riot-control enforcement might be in violation of protocol and harmful to people and their property.”

Still, Sela acknowledged that riot-control measures are a “useful tool that can be used appropriately.”

“The question is how they’re put to use,” she said. “Police regulations include limitations on [use of force], so on the one hand riots can be controlled, and on the other hand innocent bystanders don’t get harmed.”

Moreover, Sela said dangerous weapons such as sponge bullets should be aimed only at the lower extremities and never at the upper torso and head.

She acknowledged the police perspective of being besieged by hundreds of highly dangerous assailants during such riots, but added that restraint still must be upheld.

“We clearly say we’re aware these are very difficult situations for police to deal with, but I would argue that the limitations against excessive use of force are even more important during such volatile situations than when things are relatively peaceful,” she said.

Sela added that, in the letter, ACRI also denounced the videotaped beating of Abu Khdeir’s cousin, Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, which was subsequently televised, resulting in international condemnation against the arresting officers.

“It’s clear from the video that he was not a threat at the point when he was arrested, lying face-first on the ground, and yet they beat him,” she said. “Because it’s on video it’s easier for police to open an investigation and track down those involved. We’re concerned that similar instances have happened but have not been videotaped.”

The two officers captured in the video have since been suspended.

Asked to respond to ACRI’s allegations, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld noted that hundreds of Arabs aggressively attacked officers with deadly weapons, resulting in 150 arrests and 15 injured officers.

“During the riots by hundreds of Israeli Arabs, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and stones were thrown at police,” he said. “Officers worked carefully and cautiously by only using nonlethal weapons, such as stun grenades and sponge bullets, in order to control the riot.”

Rosenfeld added, “There were no innocent people who took part in the riots.”The Association for Civil Rights in Israel published an open letter to the nation’s police chief Wednesday to denounce what it claims was excessive force undertaken by officers during the east Jerusalem rioting that took place over the past two weeks.

The riots engulfed large swaths of the Shuafat and Beit Hanina neighborhoods following the alleged revenge killing of 16-year-old Shuafat resident Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whose badly burned corpse was found in the Jerusalem Forest on July 2.

The three Jewish suspects arrested in his slaying have since confessed to kidnapping, torturing and murdering him to avenge the killings of the three abducted yeshiva students, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.

According to Ronit Sela, director of ACRI’s East Jerusalem Project, excessive and dangerous force was used against numerous bystanders not directly involved in the rioting.

“Since the riots began in east Jerusalem, our workers have gathered information about police violence and whether they used riot control methods according to protocol, or excessively,” she said, adding that sponge-covered bullets were used in addition to tear gas and stun grenades.

The sponge bullets, she said, resulted in at least three serious injuries, including two men who were shot in the eye, and one woman who was struck in the jaw. Sela said all three wounded were not active participants in the rioting and that one of the men lost and eye, while the woman, a photo journalist, has since undergone extensive surgery to repair her jaw.

“Unfortunately, the man who lost his eye was already blind in his other eye, and now he can’t work and he has two children,” she said.

While conceding that the three were “in a very heated atmosphere,” Sela contended they were still “not in the eye of the storm.”

“The police chief should understand that there is a real problem with riot-control officers and Border Police, and some of the examples we cite are criminal instances,” she said. “Such riot-control enforcement might be in violation of protocol and harmful to people and their property.”

Still, Sela acknowledged that riot-control measures are a “useful tool that can be used appropriately.”

“The question is how they’re put to use,” she said. “Police regulations include limitations on [use of force], so on the one hand riots can be controlled, and on the other hand innocent bystanders don’t get harmed.”

Moreover, Sela said dangerous weapons such as sponge bullets should be aimed only at the lower extremities and never at the upper torso and head.

She acknowledged the police perspective of being besieged by hundreds of highly dangerous assailants during such riots, but added that restraint still must be upheld.

“We clearly say we’re aware these are very difficult situations for police to deal with, but I would argue that the limitations against excessive use of force are even more important during such volatile situations than when things are relatively peaceful,” she said.

Sela added that, in the letter, ACRI also denounced the videotaped beating of Abu Khdeir’s cousin, Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, which was subsequently televised, resulting in international condemnation against the arresting officers.

“It’s clear from the video that he was not a threat at the point when he was arrested, lying face-first on the ground, and yet they beat him,” she said. “Because it’s on video it’s easier for police to open an investigation and track down those involved. We’re concerned that similar instances have happened but have not been videotaped.”

The two officers captured in the video have since been suspended.

Asked to respond to ACRI’s allegations, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld noted that hundreds of Arabs aggressively attacked officers with deadly weapons, resulting in 150 arrests and 15 injured officers.

“During the riots by hundreds of Israeli Arabs, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs and stones were thrown at police,” he said. “Officers worked carefully and cautiously by only using nonlethal weapons, such as stun grenades and sponge bullets, in order to control the riot.”

Rosenfeld added, “There were no innocent people who took part in the riots.”

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