In response to an NGO petition to the Lod District Court, it has been revealed that new security rules were put into place to combat the current 9-month long wave of deadly Palestinian violence directed against Israelis.
Portions of the police’s classified new intifada rules of engagement approved by then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein in September 2015 to combat a wave of violence have been publicized, the NGO Adalah announced on Monday.
The parts of the rules which were made public came under pressure from a petition by Adalah to the Lod District Court in its administrative court capacity.
A hearing was set for July 17, but the police and the state moved to publicize aspects of its rules of engagement before the hearing, hoping to convince Adalah, or the court, to dismiss the rest of the petition regarding aspects of the rules that they wish to keep classified.
The result is that the police, having refused Adalah’s request to reveal the rules in December, revealed for the first time a range of situations in which its forces are allowed to open with live fire.
Under the new rules included in that list are not only those with guns and molotov cocktail throwers, who have routinely been on the list, but also certain cases of persons using firecrackers and throwing rocks as weapons.
The rules do say that open fire can only be used after prior procedures have been fired or if there is an immediate and serious danger to the life of a policeman or civilian.
But Adalah says that the rules went too far and became too loose and blames the rules for many mistaken shootings of Palestinians, saying the new rules sent the message that police could be easier on the trigger.
Adalah did not dispute that rock throwing at moving vehicles could constitute an example of an immediate and serious danger.
Yet it strenuously objected to the inclusion of someone throwing a rock from a slingshot as an example of presenting a serious and immediate danger.
The NGO said this was a clear example of top law enforcement officials sending the wrong message to rank and file police that they will not be held accountable for shooting Palestinians and Israeli-Arab protesters, even those who do not present a serious and immediate danger.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld disputed this view.
He said that all of the rules need to be read in context and that opening fire is never allowed unless the danger is immediate and serious.
He added that a slingshot from far away would not be dangerous, just as one close by with a large rock could be, and that the same could even be true with the generally more dangerous Molotov cocktail, depending on the distance at which it was being thrown.
Parts of the rules were still blacked out, with Adalah speculating that these portions related to rules about the police use of the Ruger rifle.
In September 2015, Weinstein approved the use of the Ruger rifle against certain rock throwers even in east Jerusalem, whereas in the past it was only allowed to be used in the West Bank.
The state has noted that the Ruger rifle is considered less dangerous than others, but critics have said that introducing live fire into situations for putting down protests would lead to the shooting of protesters who are not dangerous.
Weinstein approved the change in the midst of the start of the current nine month long wave of violence.