Israel Police Suspend Sniper Use After East Jerusalem Riots

Strict ban imposed on using the Ruger rifle until marksmen undergo proper training, police officers were told.

Jack Khoury
Yaniv Kubovich
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Israeli policemen patrol a street in the Arab east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber following clashes in Jerusalem September 18, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israel Police on Monday informed its officers that for now it is suspends the use of the Ruger sniper rifle during operational activities, after it was used over the weekend against stone-throwers in East Jerusalem.

The Israel Police and Border Police were informed that a plan was being developed to train marksmen in the use of the Ruger, a .22-caliber rifle considered less lethal than a standard rifle. The program for training and deploying these police sharpshooters is being drawn up by senior officials at the Border Police training base and will take into account the rules of engagement.

The police training and development department must approve the training program, and until then there is a strict ban on using this weapon, to make sure that all those using it have been properly trained, the police officers were told.

Police had already begun to use the Ruger. On Friday live fire was used against demonstrators in Qalandiyah and in other areas where rioters threw rocks at police.

Meanwhile, the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev issued a sharp condemnation on Monday of a plan by police to use sharpshooters against Bedouin stone-throwers in the South, as reported Monday by Haaretz. “We see this as a declaration of war on the community and on our basic right to protest,” the council said. “This is a license to kill demonstrators, because our experience has shown that the police don’t need a reason to arrest or to kill.”

The council added, “This decision, because it is aimed solely at us, puts a big question mark on our citizenship as expressed by cabinet decisions. We will weigh our next steps, which will include asking for international protection against the deliberate repression aimed at us.”

The regional council said the orders are not aimed at curbing violent incidents on Route 31, a highway in the south, as police claim, but is aimed at all future protests by residents of unrecognized villages against evacuation. “It’s clear that the police will not station policemen along the road, but it will be prepared for any demonstration or protest against the evacuation of residents,” said Fadi Masamra, a leading council activist.

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