Israel: Most deaths were during riots amid May Gaza fighting

Palestinian deaths from Israeli low-caliber rounds spike in 2021

Figures show 8 killed by Ruger bullets this year in West Bank clashes with IDF, compared to 4 total in 2016-2020

Clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron on May 12, 2021. (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Illustrative: Clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron on May 12, 2021. (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank this year by a controversial form of live ammunition used by the Israel Defense Forces is double the figure of the past five years combined, according to the Defense Ministry.

So far this year, eight Palestinians have been killed by low-caliber Ruger rounds, making up two-thirds of the 12 deaths recorded by Ruger rounds in the West Bank since 2016, Meretz MK Gaby Lasky said Sunday, citing statistics provided by Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office.

Most of the deaths in the West Bank this year occurred during riots in May, which took place while Israel was fighting an 11-day conflict with Gaza-based terror groups.

The figures specifically addressed Palestinians who were killed by Ruger bullets fired by the Israel Defense Forces during clashes in the West Bank, and did not include cases involving the Border Police or that occurred during rioting along the Gaza border.

The Defense Ministry released the numbers in response to a parliamentary question submitted by Lasky, a former human rights lawyer.

“A Ruger rifle is a deadly weapon with the potential to kill. Despite this, the army uses it to disperse riots, without the state publishing the regulations for opening fire,” she said in a statement.

Meretz MK Gaby Lasky attends a Knesset committee meeting on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Gantz’s office said the rules on the use of Ruger bullets were classified but insisted they were similar to the procedures governing the use of other types of live rounds. The IDF said the rules concerning Ruger ammunition have not changed in recent years.

“These guidelines are classified for reasons of information security,” the military said.

Ruger bullets are considered less lethal than the larger caliber rounds typically used by the IDF. But human rights groups have condemned the use of Ruger fire for riot control, as the weapon can still kill.

Earlier this year, an Israeli soldier was killed after being accidentally shot with a Ruger round. Several high-ranking officers received an official reprimand and lower-ranking ones were removed from their positions over the death of the soldier, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday.

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