New Regulations Allow Israel Police to Respond to Stone-throwing, Firecrackers With Live Fire

Previously classified rules were loosened in December in response to East Jerusalem violence .

An Israel Police officer in the Old City of Jerusalem, October 30, 2014.
Finbarr O'Reilly, Reuters

Israel Police are now permitted to fire live bullets as a first resort against people throwing stones or incendiary devices, including fire crackers, according to open-fire regulations that were loosened last December in light of an upsurge of violence in East Jerusalem.

The regulations, which were approved by the attorney general, had been classified. They were revealed on Monday in Lod District Court in response to a petition by Adalah-Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel.

Among the new instructions: “A policeman is permitted to open fire at a person who is clearly seen to throw, or is about to throw, an incendiary device ... or is about to fire an incendiary device ... or is about to fire directly aimed firecrackers, in order to prevent the danger.”

The regulations also say that “throwing stones while using a slingshot” is an example of an incident that justifies shooting with live fire.

The Israel Police refused to reveal significant parts of the open-fire procedure. Apparently these are regulations regarding the use of Ruger rifles and dealing with crimes classified as security-related. Adalah maintains that as long as the police don’t reveal the regulations in full, the organization intends to demand a court discussion and a decision on the subject.

Attorney Mohammed Bassam, who wrote the petition, said, “The new regulations enable police to behave in an unrestrained and criminal manner. The chances that incidents such as stone throwing or firing firecrackers will constitute a danger to life are extremely remote, and there is no question that such incidents can be handled by non-lethal means. But the new regulations refer to such incidents as though they were warlike activities, and grant legitimacy to a quick trigger finger, and by doing so allow Palestinian youths to be wounded and killed.

“The new regulations are in contradiction to the existing general instructions, which allow the use of lethal weapons only when there is a real fear of harm to a policeman or to others, and there is no other way to prevent such possible harm. It is also clear that the regulations are not directed at stone throwers in general, but were written specifically in reference to Palestinian teens,” said Bassam.