The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) issued a report on the inventory of “crowd control weapons” used by the Israeli army against Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, and said that some of these weapons can be dangerous and fatal.B’Tselem said that such weapons, if used improperly by the army, can be deadly and that in fact have led to the death and injury of Palestinian protesters and demonstrators.
The center also called on the Israeli army to prevent the use of live ammunition against stone-throwing Palestinians, “with the exception of instances of mortal danger”.
It called on the army to use rubber-coated metal bullets before resorting to the use of live ammunition, and to completely ban the firing of gas bombs directly at protesters.
B’Tselem said that there are two main problems with the army’s use of what it called “crowd control weapons” in the occupied West Bank; “the wording of the open-fire and safety regulations is ambiguous, and in some cases the regulations cannot be properly followed. Second, when security forces in the field violate the regulations, even systematically, practically no action is taken to put an end to this wrongful conduct.”
The Israeli army said that the violations to open-fire regulations are not regular, and claimed that these violations carried out by some soldiers are “exceptions to the rule”, and that the army investigates them when they occur.
But, B’Tselem said that, even in the rare incidents when the army actually investigates the violations, “most of the cases are closed, and the soldiers who conducted the violations, or their superiors, are not held accountable.”
The army said that the B’Tselem report is biased towards the Palestinians, and that it “does not reflect the routine conduct of the army”.
There have been dozens of casualties, including fatalities, due to the army’s use of excessive force against Palestinian protesters, including the use of force against nonviolent protesters against the Annexation Wall and Settlements.
Two years ago, Jawaher Abu Rahma, 35, died after suffering the effects of tear gas inhalation when the soldiers fired gas bombs at the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in village, near Ramallah, on Friday December 31, 2010.
Jawaher died at a local hospital the next day of her injury. Medical reports presented by the family showed that the woman never had any health problems prior to the attack.
Medical sources reported that the cause of the death was suffocation from tear gas chemicals mixed with phosphorus.
Jawaher was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahma, who was killed on April 24 2009 after being directly hit in the chest by a gas bomb fired by an Israeli soldier directed at him during a nonviolent weekly protest against the Annexation Wall in Bil’in.
The Fatal Shooting Of Bassem Abu Rahma
The army frequently resorts to the excessive use of force, and the intentional firing at the Palestinians and their international and Israeli supporters during the nonviolent protests against the Wall and settlements in the West Bank.
An example to the intentional infliction of harm against the Palestinians during nonviolent protests is the case of Ashraf Abu Rahma, who was arrested by the soldiers during a weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in, on July 19 2008.
A video captured by a young Palestinian woman of the incident showed the soldiers forcing the bound and blindfolded Palestinian to stand in front of a military jeep; one soldier held his hand while another soldier standing at a very close range shot Ashraf in the leg.
The army later arrested the father of the young Palestinian woman who captured the assault on video.