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Jewish Settlers Are Demanding Permission to Shoot Attackers

Reacting to a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis, Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are demanding changes in the rules about when they are allowed to shoot at Arabs stoning them.

Many settlers, routinely stoned by Arabs as they drive around the administered territories in cars with telltale yellow license plates, carry guns. But they are only supposed to shoot live ammunition if they feel their lives are in danger.

Settler leaders declared this week that they would fire at attackers in any stoning attack. But the army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, repeated Sunday that there was no need to make any changes in the standing rules.

The issue once again emerged on the national agenda following the mob killing of an Israeli in the Gaza Strip and a shooting incident the next day in which an Israeli driver shot to death a 60-year-old Arab in eastern Jerusalem after coming under a stoning attack.

In the Jerusalem incident, the Israeli driver, Haim Danino, fled the scene after the incident but was tracked down over the weekend by police, arrested and detained. Danino claimed he had fired in the air in self-defense and did not mean to kill anyone.

But police are looking into possible charges of illegal use of his gun.

Right-wing politicians have rallied to Danino’s defense, mounting pressure on Police Minister Moshe Shahal to release the driver on bail, since, they say, he acted properly in self-defense.

A group of right-wing activists announced over the weekend they would establish a new organization, the Committee for the Right of Self-Defense, to give legal assistance to civilians and soldiers charged with violating regulations about shooting during clashes with Arabs.

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