Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein

(JNi.media) Government legal experts opposed the demand to ease the rules of engagement with live ammunition when there is a risk to civilian lives. Speaking at a special session convened on Sunday by the Prime Minister in response to the rise in violent incidents in the capital, the same experts did authorize the use of non-lethal weapons. They said an examination of the plan to ease the rules will continue.

Netanyahu’s office said that during the hearing the prime minister instructed his legal experts to re-examine the rules of engagement in order to “adapt them to the reality on the ground, so that the police can prevent and deter terrorism.”

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Netanyahu told his cabinet meeting on Sunday about the policy changes he wished to enforce following the deterioration in the security situation in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. “The police have already used new measures under the new directives this weekend, and struck the stone throwers and Molotov cocktail throwers,” Netanyahu reported. “Today we will allow further expansion of the ability of police forces to act and will add forces to damage the rioters,” he said.

But there have been tensions between the political and legal participants in the debate about the rules of engagement, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again demanding that the legal team at the office of the Attorney General re-examine the rules in light of the escalation of Arab violence in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. According to NRG, the legal team told the Prime Minister that he cannot change the rules of engagement with live ammunition, which is why the AG’s office had approved police use of the Ruger .22 sniper rifle, a non-lethal weapon used by the military to disperse rioters. However, the Prime Minister’s repeated demand, the Attorney General stated that the examination of the proposed changes will continue.

According to preliminary reports, the police was supposed to present at the discussion a draft proposal, finalized with the Attorney General, on the changes in the permission to open fire on rioters, namely that police would be able to use live fire in cases of risk to civilians inside Israel. However, as the debate had begun, representatives from the Attorney General’s and the State Attorney’s offices stated their opposition to the draft.

Later on Sunday, Israel Radio reported that the Prime Minister said in a private conversations that he was determined to confirm his new anti-terrorism measures put forward earlier. Netanyahu reportedly said his government is the sovereign and it can decide. Netanyahu once again instructed his professional staff to examine changes in the rules of engagement for rioters who throw stones and Molotov cocktails, setting minimum sentences for said violations, and denying the parents of rioting minors their government entitlements, such as social security benefits.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told Israel radio he objected to minimum sentences, but said he was inclined to agree if the penalties remain part of a temporary order and be applied only to adults, and not to children. Weinstein also opposed a change in the rules of engagement for police but agreed to clarify the rules again, in case of a misunderstanding.

According to the Prime Minister, “there is a new situation and we should match the punishment and the rules of engagement to the new reality. We can’t allow that in Jerusalem, our capital, or in any part of the State of Israel, the Galilee or the Negev, people would organize popular terror and start throwing bottles at passing cars, or stones that kill people. This will not become the norm here, the opposite norm will be enforced — we will stop you in mid-action, and punish you to the full extent of the law,” Netanyahu said.

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