U.S. Deplores Use of Plastic Bullets

The State Department on Wednesday criticized Israel’s recent use of plastic bullets against Palestinian rioters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We believe that measures must be taken to reduce rather than to increase casualties among Palestinian demonstrators,” spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said at the department’s daily briefing.

As many as six Palestinians have died in riots this week and scores have been wounded. Observers attribute the increase in casualties to the Israel Defense Force’s decision to substitute plastic bullets for the rubber bullets previously used to subdue the unrest.

Oakley said the United States is “disturbed by the rising casualties to Palestinians in recent clashes with the Israeli military. We can see no justification for a policy admittedly designed to cause an increase in casualties.”

Asked whether the United States is urging Palestinians not to engage in rioting, Oakley said, “We are certainly in touch with Palestinians in the occupied territories and we have urged restraint on all sides.”

Across from the United Nations, in Sharansky Square, hundreds of Palestinians gathered Wednesday to demonstrate against Peres and Israel’s policies. They were joined by dozens of Hasidim from the Neturei Karta sect.

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