TEL AVIV (Jan. 18)
The defense establishment is experimenting with a new type of rubber bullet, which it hopes will stop rock-throwers without the often severe casualties caused by plastic bullets.
Davar quoted a senior military source Wednesday as saying the new rubber bullets would be issued to the Israel Defense Force in about a month.
They are adapted for use in a regular rifle without special equipment, have a longer range and hit harder, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the IDF has authorized noncommissioned officers to fire plastic bullets in confrontations with rock-throwers.
Ha’aretz quoted the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Shomron, as saying the purpose is to have at least one soldier authorized to use plastic bullets in every patrol or lookout.
He said that Palestinian youths have learned that IDF soldiers do not fire plastic bullets if no commissioned officer is present. They have taken advantage of that situation.
But IDF soldiers were widely quoted by the news media Tuesday as telling Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir that regulations restricting the use of bullets are regularly disobeyed in the field.
In Washington, the State Department on Wednesday called Israel’s decision to give soldiers greater leeway to fire on Palestinian rock-throwers “disturbing.” It said it opposed “the use of lethal force in nonlife-threatening situations.”