Change Open Fire Regulations: Shooting at Civilians–Solely in Incidents of Immediate Threat
On January 18, 2022, we appealed to the Commander-in-Chief of the Central Command and the Military Advocate General to annul the latest amendments to open fire regulations in the West Bank, which permit firing at anyone who does not appear to pose a threat. The first amendment, from November 2021, permits firing at weapons thieves in military bases and firing zones. The second amendment permits firing at fleeing stone-throwers.
In our appeal, Attorney Roni Pelli made it clear that the changes to the open fire rules are big and dangerous, and that they go against the most basic rule, which is that shooting at civilians is a last resort and is only allowed when there is an immediate threat of death to forces or individuals. Firing at someone who does not pose an immediate threat is extremely unacceptable and violates international and Israeli law. Atty. Pelli also distinguishes between situations of combat, wherein extensive use of force is commonplace, and incidents surrounding law enforcement, such as theft and stone-throwing, where use of lethal force is an exception and wherein the military and police have fewer less lethal means to contend with the incident.
The response to our appeal claimed that, contrary to media publications, there had been no change in open fire regulations with regard to stone throwers. "Open fire regulations stipulate that in order to arrest a person who is throwing stones in a manner that poses a genuine threat, a suspect arrest procedure may be carried out immediately after the stones are thrown. Within the framework of this procedure, which aims to arrest the suspect for executing a dangerous crime and has not changed substantially over the course of the past decades, the suspect is warned to stop through various means, and solely when these means prove insufficient in leading to the suspect's arrest, is it possible, if necessary and as a last resort, to fire at the suspect's legs. Furthermore, only in these instances wherein stone-throwing poses a genuine and immediate mortal threat. May fire be carried out to eliminate the threat.”