Adalah Submits Medical Research Report to the Official Commission of Inquiry on the Danger of Firing Rubber Bullets


Today, Adalah submitted an important medical research report to the official Commission of Inquiry on the danger of using rubber bullets (rubber-coated steel bullets) and requested that it be included as an official exhibit. Israeli police fired rubber bullets at Palestinian citizen demonstrators during the October 2000 protests, causing deaths and scores of injuries. The report, entitled "Blunt and Penetrating Injuries Caused by Rubber Bullets during the Israeli-Arab Conflict in October 2000: A Retrospective Study," was prepared by Palestinian citizen and Israeli Jewish doctors, and published on 25 May 2002 in the medical journal The Lancet.
Among the report's major findings and conclusions were: 
  • The major concerns our study highlighted are: safety of use of rubber bullets for control of civil riots; range of firing by the police (more or less than 40m); and police aiming towards the lower half of the body. Inaccuracy of rubber bullets resulted in random injuries all over the body surface. However, our observation that more than half the injuries were inflicted above the umbilicus suggests improper use of the weapon by the police. Moreover, evidence for close range of firing can be assumed from the 57 injuries in 42 patients, in whom penetration or fracture by the rubber bullet was detected in body areas with high elasticity, viscosity, or both, such as skull bones, long bones of the limbs, and ribs of adult patients. The finding of 13 MA/RA 88 bullet injuries on one patient's back (figure 2) is also supportive evidence for close range of firing."
  • The need for authorities to control civil disturbances is well acknowledged. Techniques used by police forces to deter such activity must be effective and able to keep serious injuries to demonstrators to a minimum. We reported a substantial number of severe injuries and fatalities inflicted by use of rubber bullets when vulnerable upper-body regions such as the head, neck, and upper torso were struck. This type of ammunition should therefore not be considered a safe method of crowd control. New types of ammunition with higher accuracy and less force of impact than those currently in use are urgently needed for control of civil demonstrations."