JERUSALEM (Dec. 11)
The Israel Defense force is now authorized to use snipers against Arab rock-throwers, Chief of Staff Dan Shomron announced Tuesday.
He confirmed a report in Al Hamishmar that the IDF has established units of trained sharpshooters to ambush Palestinians who throw rocks at vehicles from the roadsides or from traffic junctions in the West Bank.
They are authorized to shoot with the intention of inflicting injury in the event of life-threatening rock-throwing, the newspaper said.
Shomron told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the IDF General Staff thought “long and hard” before issuing the new directive because it was important that such matters remain within the national consensus.
Several hours after Shomron’s appearance before the committee, Arab youths stoned a Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train near Battir village in the West Bank and were fired on by armed guards. At least one Arab was hospitalized.
According to Al Hamishmar, Defense Minister Moshe Arens approved the tougher policy three months ago after clearing it with the IDF judge advocate general.
Senior military sources said the change was announced at the behest of the defense minister to convince angry Jewish settlers in the administered territories that the IDF was indeed taking preventive and deterrent measures to protect them.
In the past, IDF soldiers were authorized to fire live ammunition at civilians only when they were convinced their lives were in immediate danger.
Arens, touring the Golan Heights on Tuesday, claimed that intifada activists are using firearms, which they had refrained from doing during the three years since the Palestinian uprising began.
“They knew we imposed limitations on ourselves when facing weapons other than guns,” Arens said. But now that the Palestinians are resorting to live ammunition, the IDF will no longer restrict itself.