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From the field

23 Jan. '12: B'Tselem to military: Investigate firing of .22-caliber bullets at stone throwers

On 5 Jan. '12, B'Tselem wrote to the military advocate general, Brig. Gen. Danny Efroni, and to the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brig. Gen. Hagai Mordechai, demanding an investigation into the firing of .22-caliber bullets that hit a young Palestinian man who was throwing stones at soldiers during the weekly demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, on 23 December 2011. B'Tselem also requested that the MAG clarify to senior commanders, to forces in the field, and to the Judea and Samaria Division’s spokesperson that using these bullets is tantamount to firing live ammunition, and is, therefore, forbidden as a crowd-control measure.

Part of video footage showing firing of .22-caliber bullet at Palestinian demonstrator throwing stones, a-Nabi Saleh, 23 Dec. '11.
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In her letter, B'Tselem’s executive director, Jessica Montell, noted that the circumstances did not meet the army's criteria for using live fire as detailed in official correspondence with B'Tselem. The soldiers' lives were not at risk, and the forces were equipped with crowd-control means, such as tear gas, which they had successfully used earlier against the stone throwers.

After the incident, the Judea and Samaria Division spokesperson said that the shooting had been carried out according to procedure. This statement contradicts the army’s previous declarations that firing.22-caliber bullets is not considered a proper means for coping with a public disturbance, and that the rules of engagement regarding this kind of ammunition are stringent and comparable, in general, to the rules applying to the firing of “regular” ammunition.