Clip Shows IDF Officer Shooting Protester With Rubber Bullet at Close Range

Rights group B'Tselem passed footage to military police; say activist was shot in violation of IDF rules.

The human rights group B'Tselem on Tuesday revealed video footage showing an Israel Defense Forces officer firing a rubber-coated bullet at an Israeli protester at close range, during a protest against the separation fence in Bil'in two months ago.

The shooting appears to violate IDF regulations, which state that rubber bullets may be fired from no closer than 40 meters.

The video shows the officer discharging his firearm at the protester, 18-year-old Eran Cohen from Tel Aviv, from no more than six meters away. The shooting left Cohen wounded in his thigh and in need of surgery to extract the bullet.

The IDF Spokesman responded that the Military Police Corps' Criminal Investigations Division has begun investigating the circumstances of the incident.

"The court has already ruled and ordered the path of the fence around Bil'in be changed, yet the disruption of order there goes on, with protesters coming regularly to the area, where they employ violence against security forces and vandalize the fence itself," the IDF Spokesman added. "In several cases, protesters even wounded soldiers and officers, so security forces were ordered to employ crowd dispersal means on the demonstrators."

The video documenting Cohen's injury, B'Tselem said, was shot by a peace activist who participated in the demonstration. The human rights organization transferred the footage to the Military Police investigators, and requested that the officer be investigated.

The video shoes the officer, a lieutenant, walking with a group of soldiers down a dirt path, and carrying an M-16 assault rifle fitted with a rubber bullet adapter over the muzzle.

Cohen is seen wearing a white T-shirt and a backpack, walking alongside the soldiers and shouting. Cohen says he was protesting the arrest of a fellow demonstrator.

The officer then turns toward Cohen and fires a single shot at his thigh. The force continues to walk, as Cohen falls to the ground.

Other demonstrators came to his assistance, and he was eventually taken to hospital.

The fence at Bil'in has been the focus of weekly demonstrations for three years now, punctuated at times by violent confrontations between protesters, soldiers and police.

In September 2007, following a petition against the fence's route, the High Court of Justice ordered the state to dismantle, move and rebuild a 1.7-kilometer section of the fence, which was built on land belonging to the village of Bil'in.