Israel poised to pass Ben-Gvir bill that 'could allow' police to shoot Palestinian protesters

Israel poised to pass Ben-Gvir bill that 'could allow' police to shoot Palestinian protesters
If passed, Israeli police could be allowed to shoot at protesters - notably Palestinian citizens of Israel - during 'emergency' hours and those 'blocking' roads and town entrances.
2 min read
27 October, 2023
Itamar Ben-Gvir has been at the forefront of the idea [Getty]

The Israeli cabinet is set to pass a law permitting police officers to shoot at protesters "obstructing roads or town entrances", according to local media.

Under the new rules, which were fast-tracked by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, law enforcement police would require approval from a senior officer before opening fire at demonstrators, the Israeli broadcaster Kan 11 said on Thursday.

It comes amid waves of anti-government protests in Israel, which has led to roads being occupied and ministers' homes surrounded, but also sparked fears that Palestinian citizens of Israel could be victims of such a policy.

Israel’s extreme-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir has been pushing for the legislation since early this year.

Ben-Gvir, as well as Israeli police, were reportedly calling for the use of live ammunition against protesters blocking roads during "emergency hours" earlier this week, the broadcaster said.

A special committee is also examining the establishment of an Israeli "National Guard".

Activists fear the law is likely to disproportionately affect Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are already discriminated against and unfairly targeted by Israeli police.

Palestinians there are also likely to protest Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, which has now entered its 21st day killing over 7,300 people.

On 17 October, the Israeli police commissioner issued a sweeping directive barring protests against Israel's onslaught on Gaza. The police chief also threatened to send Palestinian residents of the 1948 border who "identify" with the blockaded enclave to Gaza.

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Israel police have detained peaceful protesters, including minors, in a "violation of free speech" according to the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel Adalah.

A number of Palestinian public figures and activists have also been detained by Israeli forces for social media posts standing with Gaza, notably singer Dalal Abu Amneh.

On 10 October, Ben-Gvir said his ministry would purchase 10,000 rifles to arm so-called civilian security teams in towns close to the Palestinian borders, as well as cities with mixed Jewish-Arab populations, and illegal West Bank settlements.

Ben-Gvir also came under fire for suggesting that riots in Arab-Israeli towns should be expected, The Times of Israel reported.

Israel has been accused of committing war crimes in Gaza by the likes of Amnesty International, bombing hospitals, churches and mosques.