In the wake of recent violence, the Israeli cabinet, adopted stricter measures including the use of sniper rifles and mandatory minimum sentences for stone throwing. In its Thursday meeting, the cabinet unanimously agreed to back legislation which would change the rules of engagement for police and security forces, allowing live fire with .22 caliber Ruger sniper rifles in cases where lives are endangered by rock throwing. Though certainly deadly, the small caliber rifles are considered less lethal than other alternatives.
The new legislation also carries a mandatory minimum four year jail sentence, imprisonment and fines for minors aged 14-18, cancellation of welfare benefits for minors in prison, and an evaluation of fining parents of convicted children aged 12-14. Under current Israeli law, children below the age of 12 cannot be held accountable for crimes.
The Prime Minister’s Office commented on the new legislation, saying, “The 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 a police officer is threatened.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that “In Israel, these murderous objects won’t be thrown unanswered and without prevention.”
The new security measures come at a time when police and Arab rioters are clashing. Over 100 Arabs were arrested in the week leading up to the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur, and the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which began as the Jewish holiday ended on Wednesday evening. 13 more were arrested as the Muslim holiday went out, for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
An Israeli man was killed on the Jewish New Year as a result of rocks thrown at his car. An Arab woman was shot by IDF troops last Tuesday as she approached them with a knife, leading to riots at her funeral clashing with security forces. Also earlier in the week, an Arab man was killed when a grenade exploded in his hand before he could throw it at Israeli troops.
Today, an Arab man, Ahmed Khatabteh, 25, died of his wounds after being shot last Friday by IDF troops. He was shot after throwing a firebomb at an Israeli car near Elon Moreh, near Nablus (Shechem) causing the driver to lose control and the car to flip over.