An internal Jerusalem police department report reveals Israeli border police “initiated friction activity” to deliberately provoke violence in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, according to Haaretz.
The report comes to light after attorney Eitay Mack, representing the family of 12 year old Palestinian child Ahmed Abu Humus, filed a complaint after the boy was shot in the head by Israeli forces last January.
Ahmed Abu Humus suffers from severe neurological brain damage sustained from a fractured skull as a result of Israel’s 2014 policy of using model 4557 black foam-tipped bullets for “riot control“. Over 57,000 “foamed tipped” bullets have been fired in the last 2 years, mostly in East Jerusalem.
However, the implication of the recently revealed report indicates whatever “riot” Israeli forces were controlling on January 6, 2016 occurred after Israeli Border Police forces entered Issawiya that day. According to Haaretz, “the reports indicate that on January 6 there were no incidents in Isawiyah”.
At the time Ahmed Abu Humus was shot, Haaretz correspondent Nir Hasson reported “dozens” of Israeli Border Police forces entered Issawiya, children and teenagers threw rocks at them, and the forces responded by firing tear gas and rounds of riot control bullets. Deputy Police Commissioner Commander Haim Blumenfeld, who claims the protocols for using Model 4557 ammunition have been revised, “with an emphasis on supervision” (presumably after the exposure police had been using the ammunition for about 6 months before regulations governing their usage were even written) further claims the potentially deadly bullets were used “to prevent police officers from life-threatening situations….a police officer, like any citizen, may use any means available to avert that threat.”
But how does initiating “friction activity” qualify as avertinga threat?
Astoundingly, Hasson’s current article, Border Police Deliberately Provoke Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Internal Reports Say, claims nearly all of the reports made by (10) police who were present during the “clashes” that day repeat the same term – “friction activity”:
Mack only got the full file last week. It included 10 reports made by police who were involved in the clashes. Nearly all of them reported that the events began with a “friction activity” or an “initiated friction activity.” One policeman named Timor said, “During the afternoon shift we launched an activity in Isawiyah to create friction with the residents.” Two other policemen reported that they “were asked to come to the Menta gas station in Isawiyah for a friction activity in the village,” and that they were briefed before getting started.
They launched an activity for the purpose of creating “friction with the residents”, initiated violence with children and teens to deescalate a threatening situation? The Jerusalem police claim “a variety of means and overt and undercover forces to preserve the security and welfare of the public.”
The public in Issawiya doesn’t agree. On April 4th when another 12 year old Palestinian child, Yazan Khalid Naaji, was shot in the head by Israeli forcesin the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, local popular committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus stated Israeli forces raided Issawiya “every day in a provocative manner” by deploying in the streets and rooftops firing tear gas canisters and these potentially lethal bullets “haphazardly at resident’s homes and vehicles.”
Allegedly, according to Israeli police, the Model 4557 bullets are only used “in the course of the most severe disturbances, and must only be fired at the lower body and may not be used against minors, the elderly or pregnant women”. But Palestinians have been shot in the head, face and eyes repeatedly and the ammunition can be lethal.
It’s a myth Israeli forces are responding to disturbances in documented situations where they initiate violence with specific intent to provoke and incite violence.
Investigations open and close, but thus far no one has ever been charged for using this lethal ammunition against police protocol, allegedly because the police claim they are unable to identity who the shooters are.
“This is irresponsible behavior and the residents pay the price,” said Mack. “These are not necessary activities. Then the police claim their lives were endangered and use their weapons. It’s extremely grave that that’s how it ends.”
Attorney Anne Suciu of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel added, “This is fundamentally invalid behavior that totally contradicts the role and authority of the police. Initiated actions, which aim to create situations that lead police forces to use deadly measures like the Ruger [pistol] and sponge-tipped bullets, reflect a serious disregard for human life and the creation of the calculated risk of harming innocent people, as was indeed proven in the case of 12-year-old Abu Humus.”
Meanwhile, Hasson reports the Israeli police have no intention of addressing these latest revealing “friction activity” reports. Is there an Israeli police code book defining and outlining what friction activities are and the extent to which they are applied. Because if it’s available I’d be interested in reading it.
Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani.