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Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Aharonovitch: Settlers threatened security forces
Internal security minister endorses use of plastic bullets against settlers during razing of illegal structures in Havat Gilad outpost. 'Police officers faced a concrete threat during operation, forcing them to use crowd dispersal means,' he says

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch offered his full support on Wednesday to security forces who shot plastic bullets at settlers during the razing of structures in the illegal outpost of Havat Gilad.

 

Responding to MK Yariv Levin's (Likud) question as to the reason plastic bullets were used against protesters – which created an uproar among settlers and led to a series of "price tag" operations – Aharonovitch stated that "during the operation the forces were met with violent resistance that included curses, threats and stone hurling.

 

"The settlers outnumbered the security forces and encircled a small group of officers, posing a concrete threat on the force," he said, adding that security forces had to use plastic bullets due to the settlers' "massive resistance" and "rioting."

 

"The forces used an FN303 rifle that uses compressed air to fire plastic balls that explode and break up upon impact with the body," the minister noted, adding that "the weapon was inspected and approved by all authorities on crowd dispersal means."

 

'Minimal injury to protesters' (Photo: Gur Dotan)

 

According to Aharonovitch, security forces fired 11 bullets toward the protesters and arrested eight suspects, including five on possession of knives and daggers, two on suspicion of cutting down Palestinian olive trees and one masked suspect for hurling stones at police officers.

 

The purpose of using the FN303 was to "protect the security forces from injury while minimizing the injuries inflicted on rioters," he explained, stressing that the rifle has been used in the past during protests in Umm al-Fahm and other places.

 

MK Levin rejected Aharonovitch's explanations, claiming the act "stained decision makers – Jews who shoot at Jews. Part of the police's role is to exercise restraint, and this could have been prevented by instructing police not to use weapons against settlers in Judea and Samaria, who suffer quite a lot as it is," he said.

 

 

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