Israel officially permits use of live ammo in answer to ‘civilian-threat’ stone-throwers

© Abed Omar Qusini
Israel has decided to allow its police troops to fire on Palestinian and other stone-throwers when civilian lives are deemed to be at risk, and not just in self-defense. The Security Cabinet has also approved a 4-year minimum sentence for stone throwing.

“The Israeli Security Cabinet has decided to authorize police to use live ammunition against people throwing stones and Molotov cocktails when the life of a third person is threatened and no longer only when the police officer is threatened,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Until recently, police officers were only allowed to fire when their own lives were in danger.

Speaking at a Thursday meeting, Netanyahu stressed that his cabinet wants to change the situation where stone throwers “can hurl these lethal and murderous objects without response and without being foiled,” Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu praised the development on Twitter after the cabinet voted unanimously in favor of the measure, saying that “in Israel, these murderous objects won’t be thrown unanswered and without prevention.”

From now on, IDF troops and Israeli police officers are allowed to fire .22 Ruger sniper rifles at rock throwers with live rounds if they consider their lives or the life of a third person endangered.

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The vote went through despite Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s opposition. The Attorney General argued on September 21 that his recent measure, which authorized the use of Ruger rifles against certain stone-throwers in East Jerusalem, was “sufficient as is” for the moment.

Other changes approved included a minimum four-year prison sentence for rock throwers, including imprisonment and fines for minors aged 14-18, the cancellation of welfare benefits for minors in prison, and a re-evaluation of financial subsidies paid to parents if their 12-14 year-old children are convicted.

“We have decided to penalize more severely adult stone-throwers with a minimum sentence of four years in prison and also to authorize larger fines for minors and their parents,” the statement said. “These sanctions apply to all Israeli citizens and residents of Israel.”

Attorney General Weinstein also protested the minimum sentences, instead recommending a temporary one-year order. However, the cabinet voted to authorize the order for three years, as insisted on by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Netanyahu has been pushing for the changes to the law since a surge of rock-throwing and firebomb attacks began in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

READ MORE: Israel approves use of police sniper fire against Palestinian rock-throwers - reports

On September 16, Netanyahu declared “war” on stone-throwers after a car accident that killed 64-year-old Aleksandr Levlovich. He was returning home from a dinner celebrating Rosh Hashana when his car was allegedly pelted by unidentified stone-throwers between a Palestinian and Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem.