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Panama cops apologize for firing on Arab targets at Israeli-run training course

After controversy, images from session erased from Twitter accounts of Panamanian National Police, local Israeli chamber of commerce

Illustrative: Panamanian national border police officers march during an independence day parade in La Chorrera, Panama, November 2019. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Illustrative: Panamanian national border police officers march during an independence day parade in La Chorrera, Panama, November 2019. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

PANAMA CITY — Panama’s police force apologized on Friday for participating in an Israeli-run training course that showed officers shooting at targets that appeared to depict people dressed in traditional Arab clothing.

The controversy arose after photos emerged from the training, one of which showed a man pointing a gun at an image of an armed person wearing what appeared to be an Arab headdress.

The images were published on Twitter by the National Police and the local Israeli chamber of commerce, but were later deleted.

“We are respectful of cultural, religious and ethnic differences,” the police force said in a statement. “We regret that… a situation arose outside the nature of our mission and duty.”

The deleted Twitter posts had said that the training was organized by the Israeli embassy in Panama.

The controversy drew a rebuke from the Panamanian Committee of Solidarity with Palestine, which said that the course promoted “violence and racism, so that anyone who wears a hijab or something similar can be classified as a terrorist.”

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