Rubber bullet use against peaceful demonstrators unacceptable

Jo criticised as heavy-handed the use of rubber bullets against peaceful demonstrators

 An East Dunbartonshire woman who was shot by Israeli forces while carrying out aid work in the West Bank has had her case raised before Government Ministers.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Jo Swinson outlined how her constituent was targeted and injured by Israeli troops using rubber bullets, while taking part in a peaceful demonstration earlier this year.

Questioning Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells, Jo said:

“A report in 2002 by a group of Israeli researchers including the then chief physician of the Israeli Police Force recommended that rubber bullets “should… not be considered a safe method of crowd control”.

“However despite this, on August 4th this year my constituent was shot in the back with a rubber bullet during a peaceful protest in the disputed village of Bil’in, leaving her bruised and badly shaken.

“Will the Minister raise this issue with Israeli Government, and ask them to follow the advice of the 2002 report?”

Dr Howells stated that he was awaiting a response from the Israeli Government to concerns raised over the actions taken against demonstrators.

Commenting further, Jo said:

“The targeting by the military of civilians demonstrating peacefully is totally unacceptable. The demonstration in question, at Bil’in, has been targeted in this way on a number of occasions, while the rubber bullets used have been known to cause fatalities.

“Incidents like this continue to damage Israel’s image abroad, raising tensions and harming the prospects for a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine. They also disrupt and discourage aid work in a region where humanitarian assistance is badly needed.”

Research carried out in Haifa and published in The Lancet in 2002 found that among 595 casualties admitted to hospitals during Israeli-Arab riots in October 2000, 152 people had been injured and three people killed after being hit by rubber bullets.

The chief physician of the Israeli Police Force, concluded: “Inaccuracy of rubber bullets and improper aiming and range of use resulted in severe injury and death in a substantial number of people. This ammunition should therefore not be considered a safe method of crowd control.”

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