The Israeli Defense Forces’ Open-Fire Regulations in the Occupied Territories
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories Jerusalem
Ali Muhammad Jawarish, eight years old, from the Aida Refugee Camp, died on November 15, 1997, of a rubber bullet wound to the head suffered on November 11, 1997. [His parents donated his organs for transplant. - ed.]
B'Tselem's investigation of this incident once again exposes the Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) policy of indifference towards Palestinian life:
• About 30 children, between 8-12 years old, threw stones at soldiers in the area of Rachel's Tomb. Another five to six soldiers arrived at the scene. They detained three children, while the rest ran away.
• One of these soldiers knelt down and aimed in the direction of the fleeing children. At this point, no stones were being thrown at the soldiers. The soldier fired one shot, apparently a rubber bullet, from a range of 15-20 meters. The
bullet struck Ali Jawarish in the forehead.
• Following the shooting, the soldiers left the scene without assisting Ali Jawarish. He was taken to hospital in a private car. He died four days later [in Hadassah Hospital, which had originally refused to accept him].
The open-fire regulations concerning rubber bullets prohibit their use at a range closer than 40 meters. These regulations also explicitly prohibit shooting rubber bullets at children.
This is not the first time that Israeli security forces have shot and killed Palestinian children, with no justification:
• In the past 10 years, 275 Palestinian children under 16 have been killed; of these, 69 were children under the age of 12.
• Since the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in September 1993, 38 children under the age of 16 have been killed; of these, 5 were under 12 years old.
• Since the beginning of the Intifada in December 1987, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed by rubber bullets; of these, 25 were children under the age of 16.
B'Tselem determines that the problem is not in the disregard of orders; rather, the orders themselves are problematic.
B'Tselem has warned in the past, and again warns today, that the open-fire regulations according to which the security forces operate in the occupied territories, endanger the lives of innocent people in general, and children in particular.
B'Tselem has called in the past, and calls again, to prohibit the use of lethal means, including rubber and plastic bullets, to disperse demonstrations.
B'Tselem calls on the IDF to end the excessive tolerance it displays towards soldiers who derogate from orders and injure Palestinians. In this case, the IDF must bring charges against the soldier and, if found guilty, punish him to the full extent of the law.