US city becomes first to ban police from training with Israel forces
A city in the United States has banned its police force from training with the Israeli military after lobbying from community organisations, making it the first in the country to take such a measure.
The city council in Durham, North Carolina, adopted the ban after a unanimous vote on Monday to prohibit police from receiving "international military-style training", local media reported.
"The council opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training," a statement from the council said.
"Such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham," it added.
The move came after a coalition of diverse activist groups under the banner of "Demilitarize from Durham2Palestine" petitioned authorities ban police from receiving training on controversial methods used by Israel against Palestinians.
"The city of Durham is leading the way in declaring that safety for all means de-militarising the police force," said Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the groups in the coalition.
"Ending police training exchanges between US law enforcement and Israeli security forces... works towards reducing state violence and discrimination," it added.
The ban has been hailed as a win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which advocates boycotts against Israel.
Human rights groups have long criticised Israel for its systematic rights abuses against Palestinians including, collective punishment, routine use of excessive lethal force and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial.
A total of thirty-six Palestinians have now been killed, including two on Friday, and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces in mass protests on the Gaza-Israel border, which entered their fourth week today. There have been no Israeli casualties.
European Union and UN chief Antonio Guterres have called for an independent investigation into the use of live fire against the unarmed protesters, who have been calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
Thousands of US law enforcement officers have trained with Israeli military and police forces.
US-Israeli actress Natalie Portman this week pulled out of a ceremony in Israel to receive the "Jewish Nobel Prize" over extreme distress over recent events in the country.