by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Jan 28, 2013
Ten Palestinians have been killed and dozens severely injured over the past eight years when hit by "non-lethal" arms used by Israeli forces in the West Bank, an Israeli watchdog said on Monday.
Israeli rights group B'Tselem said these weapons were used by Israeli forces as crowd control munitions but they are still arms that have caused deaths.
"Crowd control weapons are supposed to be non-lethal, enabling authorities to enforce the law without endangering human life," B'Tselem said in a 31-page report.
"However, they are still weapons that can cause death, severe injury and damage to property if used improperly."
The report lists .22-calibre rifle fire, rubber or plastic-coated metal bullets, stun grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, a foul-smelling spray known as "skunk" and sponge rounds -- foam-tipped projectiles designed to cause pain but not serious injury -- as "non-lethal" means used for crowd control.
It said that since 2005, six Palestinians in the occupied West Bank died of injuries from rubber or plastic-coated metal bullets, two from direct hits by tear gas canisters fired from grenade launchers, and two from .22-calibre shots.
B'Tselem demanded that Israeli security forces "prohibit the use of live ammunition, including .22-calibre bullets, for the purpose of dispersing demonstrations, except in instances of mortal danger."
It also called for restricting the use of other arms, including rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas canisters.
Israeli military generally does not specify what it uses in such situations, only refering to such means as "riot control measures" in its statements.
The army's rules of engagement are considered as classified information.