Unrest Follows Jaradat Funeral |

IDF Fire Wounds Two Palestinian Teens in West Bank; Israeli Child Hurt by Stone

IDF investigating if soldiers used Ruger metal bullets to disperse West Bank demonstration after funeral of detainee Arafat Jaradat; five-year-old sustains light wound in incident near Betar Ilit.

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Two Palestinian teenagers and one Israeli child were wounded in separate clashes Monday, the day Palestinian security prisoner Arafat Jaradat was buried after his death in Israeli custody Saturday.

A Palestinian 16-year-old was seriously wounded in the head by the Israel Defense Forces during clashes at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem in the evening. Palestinian protesters had begun throwing stones at Jews visiting the site in the afternoon, and the IDF shot back. The teen was taken to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem.

The IDF says the troops used crowd-dispersal methods and has launched a probe to determine if the boy was hit by a rubber bullet or a metal Ruger bullet.

Meanwhile, a 5-year-old Israeli boy was lightly wounded in the head when he was hit by stones thrown on a road near Beitar Ilit. He was taken to Hadassah University Hospital as well.

Also, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was part of a group throwing stones, firebombs and improvised grenades at Israeli soldiers near Rachel’s Tomb was shot and seriously wounded.

The boy, Mohammed Khaled Qurd, may have been shot by an Israeli sniper with Ruger bullets, known in the IDF as Toto bullets. They are meant for crowd dispersal.

Qurd was reported in serious but stable condition at Beit Jala Hospital. According to human rights group B’Tselem, citing hospital doctors, the boy was hit by two bullets. One hit him in the leg and one in the torso, causing bleeding in his lungs and liver.

According to eyewitnesses, the youth had joined Palestinians from the Al-Aida refugee camp who were throwing stones and firebombs at a guard post next to Rachel’s Tomb. The IDF said the demonstration included the tossing of improvised grenades that were liable to harm the soldiers at the guard post and worshippers at the tomb.

An IDF sniper who was in the area but not at the guard post received permission to open fire in accordance with regulations for taking prisoners. The IDF is investigating the circumstances of Qurd’s wounds.

According to an army source, Ruger bullets "are only used in cases where there is danger to life as a less dangerous substitute for live fire. This ammunition was fired at the legs in an effort to disperse the demonstration.”

According to the IDF, Ruger bullets – .22-caliber metal bullets that are used in sporting rifles – were used for years by IDF snipers until it became clear that they could cause serious harm. During the second intifada, the IDF banned the use of Ruger rifles and bullets except in cases justifying the use of live fire.

Although the ban was never lifted, B’Tselem has reported that at the end of 2008 the army resumed using Ruger rifles to disperse demonstrations, and since then two Palestinians have been killed by them – in February 2009 in Hebron and in June 2009 near Na’alin. When B’Tselem contacted the military prosecution on the issue, the group was told the open-fire orders for Ruger rifles were the same as for live fire.

“The IDF does not view the Ruger rifle as a means for dispersing demonstrations or disturbances," wrote Maj. Yehoshua Gertler, a legal assistant to then-Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit.

Despite this, during a 2010 Judea Military Court, it turned out that the army was indeed using these weapons for crowd dispersal.

At the time, Maj. Igor Musayev, the Military Operations Branch officer for the Binyamin Brigade, said he was not aware of any order by the military prosecution to refrain from using these bullets to disperse demonstrations. He said the military had in fact used NIS 1.3 million worth of such bullets to disperse protests at Palestinian villages in the area.

After Musayev’s testimony, the head of the Judea and Samaria Division appointed an officer to investigate; it was then decided to take action against Musayev, who left the military.

In a B’Tselem report last month on dispersing demonstrations, the IDF repeated that “the use of Ruger rifles or weapons of similar caliber (0.22 inch) are not considered crowd-dispersal methods but rather lethal weapons. As such, they are to be used only in cases where open-fire regulations permit the use of live fire.”

The IDF said that around 1,500 Palestinians were involved in protests and clashes throughout the West Bank on Monday. Most involved the throwing of stones and firebombs, and the burning of tires.

The IDF Central Command said 25,000 people had attended the funeral of Jaradat, the security prisoner who died over the weekend. There were no disturbances at the funeral.

A Palestinian protester throwing stones during clashes with Israeli soldiers in Hebron after Jaradat's funeral, Feb. 25, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Palestinian protester moves burning tire during clashes with Israeli soldiers outside Ofer military prison on February 25, 2013.
The reality of Hebron: Israeli security forces shoot tear gas canisters at Palestinian protesters during clashes last year.
Palestinian protester uses sling to throw stone at Israeli military jeeps in clashes  near the West Bank city of Nablus on February 25, 2013.
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Palestinian protester moves burning tire during clashes with Israeli soldiers outside Ofer military prison on February 25, 2013.Credit: Reuters
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The reality of Hebron: Israeli security forces shoot tear gas canisters at Palestinian protesters during clashes last year.Credit: AFP
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Palestinian protester uses sling to throw stone at Israeli military jeeps in clashes near the West Bank city of Nablus on February 25, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Palestinian protesters, Israeli security forces clash outside Ofer military prison in West Bank.

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