TEL AVIV (May. 31)
Israeli security forces engaged in riot control are replacing plastic bullets with a new type of rubber bullet considered less lethal, Ma’ariv reported Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the commander of the border police told reporters Tuesday that using classic riot control methods, it would take some 200,000 men to crush the 17-month-old Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to overseas media reports, no more than 15,000 Israel Defense Force personnel are in the territories at any one time.
The bullet changeover brings the IDF to where it was about 10 months ago, when plastic projectiles were substituted for rubber ones that had been causing serious casualties.
The new rubber bullets, actually small pellets, are known as “shock shots.” Unlike the original rubber bullets or the plastic variety, they do not usually penetrate the skin.
But they cause pain and can kill if improperly used.
According to IDF statistics quoted by Ma’ariv, 77 Palestinians were killed by the plastic bullets since their introduction.
Some of the fatalities were attributed to improper use of the bullets, in violation of standing orders. But even when orders were obeyed, deaths resulted, the newspaper said.
Inspector Meshullam Amit, who heads the 4,800-strong border police, spoke to foreign correspondents on the first foreign press tour of its training center in the West Bank town Ramallah.
He explained the 200,000 figure by noting that the “rule book” adopted in Europe and South Korea calls for one policeman to deal with every 15 rioters.
Amit added that unlike the situation facing Israelis, the Europeans or South Koreans deal with a limited numbers of rioters who are their own people, and in a confined area.
“But here we are faced with another people, in small numbers but in widely separated localities at one and the same time.
“We never know when we are going to come under a sudden barrage of rocks or gasoline bombs, or even live fire,” Amit said.