Ben Gvir Confirms His Ministry Plans to Authorize Police Use of Live Ammunition Against Palestinian Protesters

In an interview following a report on Israeli TV channel “KAN 11”, the minister explained the move is intended to address scenarios of mass demonstrations of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Adalah: Urgent international intervention needed to protect the lives of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Today, 4 October 2023, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, declared they will seek the protection of Palestinian citizens, through UN and other international bodies. This comes in response to an escalation in Israel’s deadly policies against its Palestinian citizens, including the advancement in police authorization to use live ammunition against Palestinian protesters, and its deliberate inaction to address crime in Palestinian communities, which has killed 194 Palestinians since the beginning of 2023.


Yesterday, Israeli KAN 11 Channel reported that the police and the Ministry of National Security are seeking to authorize the use of live ammunition against protestors who block roads during emergencies. It was further reported that this is ”in preparation for the possibility that a scenario may arise in which Arab-Israelis block movement routes for the IDF [Israeli military], drawing lessons from the 'Guardian of the Walls' [the Israeli government’s name for the May 2021 events].” 


Additionally, it was reported that the committee tasked with the establishment of the National Guard, under the authority of the Ministry of National Security, has also discussed this. Its emerging recommendation is to relax the police's open-fire regulations against those who disrupt public order during emergencies, in cases including but not limited to road blockages.


The report explained that this action is intended to circumvent the findings of the Or Commission, which was tasked with investigating the October 2000 killings – during which Israeli police killed 13 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds of others. The Commission concluded that "the use of live ammunition is not a means for dispersing a crowd". 


The Or Commission, which issued its findings twenty years ago, further held that “The police must instill in their officers the understanding that the Arab public as a whole is not their enemy, and they should not treat it as an enemy.” 


The National Security Minister, head of radical right-wing Jewish Power party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who does not conceal his racist views towards Palestinians, confirmed the above, noting in an interview today that “It is imperative that police officers find it easier to respond with force to those who pose a threat to their lives.” Ben-Gvir further clarified that this tool is not intended for use against the Jewish-Israeli protesters in Tel Aviv, but rather for potential scenarios of “Guardian of the Walls 2”. During May 2021 – as extensively documented by Adalah – Palestinian citizens faced severe repression and human rights violations at the hands of Israeli police. Ben-Gvir's comments and his ministry's actions indicate that any collective movement  of Palestinian citizens against Israeli oppression is likely to be met with severe violence and lethal force, and  absolute impunity for police. 


Read more in Adalah's recent report: Two Years After the May 2021 Events


This comes after the current government has committed – as explicitly stated in its coalition agreements – to further relax the police's open-fire regulations, to nullify the findings of the Or Commission regarding the handling of demonstrations, and to enact legislation that would grant complete impunity to Israel's armed forces, thereby codifying its longstanding policy of total lack of accountability.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s analysis of the coalition agreements and guiding principles


Earlier this year, Adalah and the High Follow-up Committee petitioned the Supreme Court against the amendment that subordinated the Police to National Security Minister Ben Gvir, arguing that granting such authority to a minister and further politicizing the police would exacerbate the police's already existing racist practices towards Palestinian citizens. They also warned that the law is part of Minister Ben Gvir's broader plans to enforce racist measures against Palestinian citizens.


    CLICK HERE to read more about the petition


Adalah's General Director, Dr. Hassan Jabareen, who represented the victims’ families and the Arab leadership before the Or Commission, commented:


“Police officers already systematically violate the existing police regulations that authorize the use of live ammunition in cases of imminent threat with blanket impunity. Now, this new measure is designed to legitimize the killing of Palestinians even when they clearly do not pose any danger. This comes at a time when the state is intensifying its deliberate policy of neglect and inaction in regard to the unprecedented rise in deadly crime within Palestinian communities, which is a result of decades of discrimination and exclusion. Urgent intervention of international bodies is now imperative, as it has been abundantly demonstrated that Israel’s government does not only disregard the lives of Palestinians, but it also actively seeks to promote a deadly policy against them.”

CLICK HERE to read Adalah News: Two Years After The May 2021 Events: Israel’s use of excessive force and racial segregation against  Palestinians continues 19 June 2023