Border Police officer aiming Ruger rifle at protesters in Turmusaya. Photo by Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem, 19 December 2014
Following the publication of the Israeli military’s probe into yesterday’s incident in which 13-year-old ‘Abd a-Rahman ‘Obeid Allah was killed in ‘Aida Refugee Camp by a 0.22 caliber bullet, B’Tselem demands that Israel’s security forces immediately cease use of this ammunition as a means of crowd control and to refrain from the use of live ammunition – both 0.22 caliber bullets (dubbed Two-Two) and “ordinary” live bullets – in non-life-threatening circumstances.
Since January 2015, 0.22 caliber bullets have killed at least four Palestinians in the West Bank (including yesterday’s fatality), and injured dozens more, some gravely. For years B’Tselem has documented the lethal outcome of firing 0.22 caliber bullets at demonstrators, and has been cautioning that the reality on the ground contradicts the military’s official statements that the use of this weapon is regulated and restricted. If the sniper’s version of yesterday’s events is indeed correct, namely - that despite being armed with a weapon with telescopic sights and firing in broad daylight, he missed the mark and inadvertently hit a 13-year-old boy, the incidents merely serves to underscore even further the danger this weapon poses.
B’Tselem’s investigations over the years have found a great deal of data indicating a steady erosion in the restrictions on firing, leading to ever greater use of this weapon, which is misleadingly portrayed as a non-lethal measure suitable as a means for dealing with disturbances. At present, snipers regularly fire 0.22 bullets at Palestinians throughout the West Bank, including in circumstances that are not life-threatening and are a far cry from those in which the law permits the use of live fire.
The indisputable facts are that we are dealing with a lethal weapon, which the Israeli authorities falsely present as a reasonable tool to employ in dealing with demonstrations. The plan to introduce this weapon into use in East Jerusalem is also expected to have lethal consequences.