According to a report published in Ha’aretz on Monday, September 21, the Israel Police will be expanding their use of firearms against stone-throwers in the south of the country. This, as authorities struggle to contend with the rise of riots and violence which have intensified during the past week, particularly in Jerusalem. Government legal and police sources have said that the decisions made by the cabinet in recent days on how to deal with stone-throwers in Jerusalem will also be applied to rioters in the south, particularly if they pose a risk to passengers traveling in cars. Police officers will be trained to use the Ruger .22-caliber rifle, which is generally not considered lethal.
Following the publication of this report, a number of activist groups issued a joint response. These groups include the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Forum for Coexistence in the Negev, the Recognition Forum, and the Shatil. In their response they claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “intends to kill civilians and plunge us back to October 2000.” The statement goes on to say that “the decision to utilize sniper fire against civilians is directed against a very specific population, namely Arab.
“Instead of conducting negotiations, the Netanyahu government, under the inspiration of Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel of the HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) party, is addressing the civilian Bedouin community residing in the unrecognized villages as a population to be repressed.
“The Prime Minister and the Minister Ariel are plunging us back to the bloody events of October 2000. We call for the immediate establishment of a commission of inquiry that will examine the failure of the Prime Minister and Minister Ariel to find appropriate solutions to the plight of the Bedouin population in the south and for the escalation of the conflict between the Bedouin population and the government in the Negev.
“As state lawyers have recommended that the rules of engagement not be changed, Netanyahu’s persistence is a cause for great concern.
“Recently there have been no unusual events in the south, so there is no escaping the conclusion that the government is planning steps to escalate the tension between Jews and Arabs in the Negev.”
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