15 November 2009
IDF troops used ammunition equivalent to live bullets against protesters at Ni’ilin on Friday, where a weekly protest by Palestinians and left-wing activists from Israel and abroad is held against the West Bank security barrier.
The military ordinarily only uses protest-dispersal means such as tear gas and a recently introduced “skunk bomb” that is harmless but exudes a pungent stench.
One Border Police officer was lightly wounded in Friday’s clash when he was hit by a rock. He was given preliminary treatment at the scene and later taken to a hospital.
A rioter at Friday’s protest said the military fired ‘two-two bullets,’ small metal pellets similar to those fired by BB guns but of a larger caliber (5.6 mm. vs the BB gun pellets’ 4.5 mm.). The man said ‘two-two bullets’ have not been used against protesters since May.
According to a statement issued by left-wing NGO B’Tselem on July 9, IDF Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit said in response to a query from the organization that “tutu bullets” are not considered a protest-dispersal means.
Mandelblit told B’Tselem in July that the rules for using “tutu bullets” are “restrictive, and parallel to the rules of engagement when using live ammunition.”
The protesters on Friday held signs inscribed “From Berlin to Bil’in,” in reference to the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Bil’in is another Palestinian village that is a hotspot of protests against the barrier.
The IDF confirmed that 5.66 mm. pellets (two-two bullets) were used on Friday. “The use of such ammunition is done against protesters where the use of violence has been ascertained, according to the restrictive protocol followed in incidents such as this,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. in a statement.
Meanwhile, near Deir Ghassana (22 km. northwest of Ramallah), the security barrier was reportedly breached when Palestinian, Israeli and foreign demonstrators broke open one of its gates.
The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said the demonstrators managed to break the lock on the gate by rocking it back and forth, despite the presence of soldiers, who shot rubber-coated bullets and tear gas at the protesters. It said one demonstrator was lightly wounded in the leg by a rubber-coated bullet.