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Israel: Police to 'legitimise' killing of Palestinian citizens in new open-fire rules

New measure seeks to allow officers to use live fire against Palestinian protesters in events similar to 2021 riots
Armed Israeli police in the Damascus Gate area of occupied east Jerusalem, during the Islamic anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (Reuters)

Israeli authorities are seeking to allow the use of live fire by police to disperse mass protests held by Palestinian citizens, the country's national security minister has said. 

A report by Israeli broadcaster Kan 11 on Tuesday revealed that police and the national security ministry are working to relax rules of engagement in some scenarios at time of "emergencies". 

An example of this would be the potential blocking of roads by Palestinians that could prevent military convoys from reaching their destination.

The rule change has been discussed in recent months as part of lessons Israeli authorities say they are drawing from the events of May 2021, in which inter-communal violence gripped binational cities.

The new measure would further disregard recommendations made by the 2003 Or Commission, which found "the use of live ammunition is not a means for dispersing a crowd" and that Israeli authorities were discriminating against Palestinian citizens. 

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Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's national security minister, voiced his support for the move on Wednesday. 

“It is very important to change the instructions so that our policemen and soldiers can fill their role without risking their lives,” the far-right minister told Kan 11.

“It is imperative that police officers find it easier to respond with force to those who pose a threat to their lives,” he added. 

'This new measure is designed to legitimise the killing of Palestinians even when they clearly do not pose any danger'

- Hassan Jabreen, Adalah

He also clarified that this change is not intended for use on Jewish Israeli protesters in Tel Aviv, but rather for a potential scenario similar to the events of May 2021. 

Adalah, an independent human rights organisation and legal centre, condemned the move.

The general director of the Haifa-based group, Hassan Jabreen, said: "Police officers already systematically violate the existing police regulations that authorise the use of live ammunition in cases of imminent threat with blanket impunity."

This new measure, he added, is "designed to legitimise the killing of Palestinians even when they clearly do not pose any danger". 

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