A member of Knesset for the right-wing Jewish Home party is pushing for laxer rules of engagement for West Bank settlers, which would permit them to open fire on people they suspect are damaging property on Jewish settlements, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.
Orit Struk, a member of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and a resident of the Jewish settlement in Hebron, called on the committee to extend to the West Bank a bill that allows residents of Israel proper to use live fire against suspected intruders and vandals. The “Dromi Law” removes criminal liability from people who discharge a firearm at intruders whom they suspect of intention to cause material or physical damage.
Since the West Bank is not officially part of Israel, the military administration there has the power to limit the application of civil laws.
The committee will hold a special session next week to review the rules of engagement in settlements and assess the feasibility of adopting such a measure. In practice, the report said, the IDF limits the rules of engagement for Israeli civilians in the West Bank in order to curtail violence between Jews and Palestinians.
Struk argued that there is a contradiction between the stringent rules of engagement that the IDF enforces with settlers and the more lenient ones that apply within the Green Line. She noted that she had spoken to settlers who were prevented from scaring off Palestinians who were damaging their property, because they were not permitted to open fire unless it was in self-defense.
“When I spoke to the chief military prosecutor and asked him why he decided to limit the ability of West Bank residents to respond with live fire despite the fact that it is permitted by law, he responded that it is the right of the military commander [in the West Bank] to limit what the law permits,” she said.
Struk’s proposal was met with fierce opposition from left-wing politicians.
“The settlers need the Dromi Law in order to shoot at Palestinians? They are coping well without it,” MK Issawi Farij (Meretz) retorted.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) accused Struck of “trying to legislate the Wild West existing in the occupied territories.”
“As if the fact that the settlers reside on lands that aren’t their own weren’t enough, she now wants them to be able to shoot Palestinians legally,” Rozin said.