The Israeli Palestinian legal-human rights NGO, Adalah, brought a case against the Israeli police for introducing new secret guidelines about opening fire on Palestinian protesters. Adalah brought a case before a regional court which ordered the police to reveal portions of the guidelines as a matter of public importance. The police appealed the ruling, but in the meantime did reveal less controversial aspects of the new rules:
Amongst the sensitive sections of the new police regulations kept under wraps are: officers’ directives for confronting demonstrations in occupied East Jerusalem and the Naqab regions; directives for opening fire on minors; and directives regarding use of the Ruger sniper rifle for crowd dispersal purposes.
However, about two weeks before the court hearing on Adalah’s petition, Israeli police revealed significant portions of its new open-fire regulations.
According to the new police regulations, “An officer is permitted to open fire [with live ammunition] directly at an individual who clearly appears to be throwing or is about to throw a firebomb, or who is shooting or is about to shoot fireworks, in order to prevent endangerment.” “Stone-throwing using a slingshot” is also specified as an example of the sort of action that would justify the fatal use of live ammunition.
It should permit the world to see even more clearly the murderous nature of the Israeli Occupation regime as it endorses an extrajudicial sentence of murder on Palestinians for throwing stones and shooting fireworks.
When the appeal came before the Supreme Court, the police secured full vindication. That’s unsurprising considering that the former has added settlers and far-right jurists to its bench. Once this Court was a champion of human rights and banned torture. But it has since made a sharp U-turn and become a body as racist as the overall Israeli population. The Court ruled in this case that the new rules may remain under wraps and that no Israeli media may report on their content.
So once again we face the ridiculous situation of virtually every police reporter in Israel probably having a copy of the regulations and knowing them by heart, but being unable to tell any of their listeners or readers what they contain.
Unfortunately, no one has been willing to share this information with me despite my intensive efforts (please contact me if you have such information). The staff of Adalah, which brought this case, has also refused to respond to multiple inquiries. But there is room for informed speculation about their content. The Palestinian news agency, WAFA, wrote this:
…The police censored certain other sections of the regulations, those dealing with the use of live fire against: “1) suicide bombers; 2) a fleeing vehicle in which a hostage is being held; and also 3) directives regarding use of the Ruger rifle.”
Why would the police insist on keeping these matters under wraps? First, my strong assumption is that they permit any police officer who suspects that a Palestinian may have a bomb to shoot to kill. What’s important here is that numerous Israeli officers who’ve murdered Palestinians in cold blood have later claimed that they did so because they believed they had bombs. Courts have sometimes dismissed such claims and ordered the killers be held accountable for their acts. I suspect the new regulations will remove this legal constraint and permit anyone to say he killed a protester because he believed he had a bomb. And this will be sufficient to secure legal impunity. In other words, no more Elor Azaryas. In future, cold-blooded killers like Azarya will be carried on the shoulders of settlers and fellow police officers through the streets in celebration.
Point 2 is extremely interesting: it is a police version of the IDF’s Hannibal Directive. That is, that any Israeli soldier may kill any captured Israeli soldier who is being spirited away by Palestinian militants. Several such incidents have occurred in Gaza in recent years and in Lebanon before that. The Directive, which I’ve written about extensively, permits Israeli authorities to murder their own in cold blood in order to avoid the embarrassing predicament of being forced to negotiate for the release of these POWs later.
Israelis don’t seem overly bothered by this blatantly illegal protocol. But I ask them to imagine this: that the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped by Palestinian militants a few years ago (the incident which precipitated the bloody massacre called Operation Protective Edge) were not killed. Instead, they were driven away by the kidnappers to a hiding place where they were to be held for ransom in the form of a prisoner exchange. But on their way to the safe house, police detected the vehicle and gave chase. At a certain point, the vehicle containing the hostages escaped and the police had no chance of physically intercepting it. That is the point at which the police Hannibal Directive permits them to open fire to kill both the kidnappers and the hostages.
So instead of the militants killing the teenagers, Israeli police would do so. Imagine the difference in response from the Israeli people. They would remain enraged by the kidnapping and rejoice in the death of the hostage-takers. But anger at the police for killing these tender young boys with so much to give to their country? Not so much. Israelis will see it as a tragic, but necessary outcome. They will eulogize the murdered teens as national heroes who gave their lives honorably and nobly. I don’t know about you, but when you compare the actual outcome of the 2014 Gaza war in which 2,300 Palestinians were slaughtered over the murder of three Israeli teenage boys; to this scenario, in which Israeli police kill their own & are seen as righteous for doing so–this stinks to high heaven and reeks of hypocrisy.
Yes, it is true that I cannot prove that’s what point 2 represents. But I’ve been following Israeli security matters like this here for well over a decade. And I’d be willing to bet money that the secret protocol is much like what I’ve described here.
Point 3 is also provocative. For years, Israeli police directives have called for use of the Ruger rifle only in limited circumstances and only to fire tear gas canisters at Palestinian protesters from a safe distance. Israeli Border Police have flagrantly and willfully violated those rules firing the canisters at close-range, resulting in the murders of a number of peaceful demonstrators. In the aftermath, the authorities have always lied, maintaining that the killers followed the directives for use of the weapon (when pictures and video clearly indicate they did not). Almost for a certainty, the rule under gag order gives the police permission to use the Rutger in circumstances guaranteed to kill Palestinian protesters. And these rules will invariably give cover to the killers and grant them total impunity for their crimes.
There is precious little outrage left within us regarding this dark Roman circus called the Occupation. Nothing in these regulations surprises because we’ve grown numb due to the thousands of previous outrages. These new regulations are a bureaucratization of Israeli terror. They don’t fire the weapons that kill the children. But they actively encourage the men with their fingers on the trigger to pull it knowing they will literally get away with murder. Even worse, that their acts are not murder, but righteous acts ratified by their superiors and the highest court in the land.
Finally, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth to know that the Israeli Supreme Court now walks hand in glove with killers like Azarya and offers a judicial fig leaf in the form of this gag order, which prevents the Israeli public from knowing the terms under which its officers will kill in their name.