Israeli police officers trained for throwing stun grenades in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah, a video recorded by a resident last month shows. According to the police, the incident caught on camera was not a training exercise but a response to a stone and firebomb-throwing incident, though no confrontation can be seen in the video.
The incident took place on the evening of September 28. Muhammad Abu Hummus, a town resident, followed a police force that entered the town, when he noticed that one of the policemen, probably an officer, was training the others on how to operate a grenade. Abu Hummus recorded him throwing a grenade near one of the houses. According to him, at the time, there were no confrontations in the town.
"There was nothing, nothing, in my opinion they bring rooky officers that arrive in Jerusalem to Isawiyah so they can train, they are looking for trouble," Abu Hummus said.
The film shows the officer instructing a policeman on the operation of the grenade for about a minute, among other things telling him "turn it clockwise." There are no sounds in the background indicating that anything out of the ordinary is taking place and the police officers seen in the video seem calm, though at one stage one of them says there are rocks and point to the right.
At the end of the training the police officer being trained pulls the pin out of the grenade and throws it at a direction other than that indicated by the officer. The grenade falls in an ally which otherwise seems quiet, at which point the officers walked away leisurely. At a certain point in the video one of the officers tells Abu Hummus to leave and threatens to arrest him if he bothers them.
Attorney Itai Mek sent a letter to Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy on behalf of Isawiyah residents, the attorney general and the commander of the Border Police.
"Beyond the fact that this contradicts rules and guidelines on the use of non-lethal weapons, it shows the contempt in which the police and the Border Police treat the residents of Isawiyah, to their safety and their property," the letter read, "as well as the creeping process by which Isawiyah is being turned into a war zone in which human life is unbearable."
The attorney called for an investigation into the incident to be initiated and for an order to cease training in the neighborhood to be issued.
The police rejected the claims, saying that the officers were under attack by rocks and firebombs. "While attempting to restore public order, commanders conducted a briefing and security check to see whether the officers were abiding by regulations, with minimal risk to life," police said.
"We stress that there have been difficult incidents of disturbances in Isawiyah in recent months, including firebomb and rock throwing by masked men aimed at Israeli vehicles on the Ma'aleh Adumim road, and at forces, at risk to their lives."
Police said further they would "continue to act with determination and a strong hand wherever the safety of innocent civilians is put at risk.
Isawiyah is considered one of the most tense locations in East Jerusalem, and for lengthy periods there were almost daily clashes between policemen and residents who threw stones and firebombs at them. Village residents, like residents of other areas in the Arab part of the city, claim that the violence is often deliberately provoked by the police.
About three months ago, it was reported that Border policemen initiate “friction” with residents of East Jerusalem to provoke a violent response from them, according to police reports. Just such a provocation apparently took place in Isawiyah earlier in 2016, sparking confrontations in which a boy was seriously wounded. Police denied the allegations.
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