Israelis 'train with stun grenades' among civilians

Israeli border police carry out stun grenade training in an East Jerusalem neighbourhood, new video appears to show.

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    While officially part of Israel’s national police, border guards also regularly carry out crackdowns, arrests, raids and even killings in Palestinian neighbourhoods [File: Reuters]
    While officially part of Israel’s national police, border guards also regularly carry out crackdowns, arrests, raids and even killings in Palestinian neighbourhoods [File: Reuters]

    Israeli border police carried out stun grenade training in the Palestinian neighbourhood of al-Issawiya in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, a new video purports to show.

    The Hebrew-language video, which was filmed on the evening of September 28 by a Palestinian resident of the town, was released on Sunday by the Israeli daily, Haaretz. In the recording, the neighbourhood, home to around 16,000 people, is quiet, raising questions as to why border police decided to practise there with the risk of provoking tensions.

    One officer is seen teaching another how to operate the grenade. "Throw lower," he tells him. The trainee officer detonates the grenade between the homes and is praised for a "good job" before he walks away with the rest of the officers.

    "As you can see, he is teaching him how to throw a stun grenade between the houses rather than taking him [the trainee officer] to an open area," Mohamed Abu al-Hummus says in the video as he is filming.

    The officers warn Abu al-Hummus to stay at least eight metres away and threaten to arrest him if he continues filming and "bothering" them.

    Like the rest of East Jerusalem, al-Issawyia was illegally annexed by Israel in 1967. Due to the village's strategic location, on the E-1 corridor that links Jerusalem to the mega-settlement of Ma'ale Adumim in the West Bank, Israel has regularly confiscated Issawiya land.

    The East Jerusalem village has been a regular target of Israeli police violence.

    I want the whole world to see how [the Israeli officer] is training another to throw stun grenades in the area. He's letting him practise how to throw grenades on us [civilians] in the village.

    Mohamed Abu al-Hummus, al- Issawiya resident

    Border police are officially part of Israel's national police but they also regularly carry out crackdowns, arrests, raids and even killings in Palestinian neighbourhoods of the occupied territories.

    "I want the whole world to see how [the Israeli officer] is training another to throw stun grenades in the area. He's letting him practise how to throw grenades on us [civilians] in the village," continued Abu al-Hummus. "No one is throwing stones. As you can see, they are using force with us for no reason."

    Haaretz quoted Israeli police as saying the officers were under attack by rocks and firebombs, although the claims contradict the video, which shows no clashes at the time it was filmed.

    "While attempting to restore public order, commanders conducted a briefing and security check to see whether the officers were abiding by regulations, with minimal risk to life," police reportedly said.

    Israeli police were not available for a follow-up comment by the time of publication. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Abu al-Hummus said the forces were patrolling the area at the time and "decided to start teaching one of the guards".  

    "I asked them why they wouldn't go somewhere else and they started threatening me."

    "They regularly practise on us and on the residents of al-Issawiya," said Abu al-Hummus. "Sometimes they just walk around the neighbourhoods to train on the maps that they have of our areas."

    At first glance, the Palestinian neighbourhood of al-Issawiya appears similar to a refugee camp. The area has been neglected by the Israeli government, a fact that becomes clear when it is compared with the well-maintained nearby Jewish settlements.

    Residents of the town are forced to build their homes illegally, as the Israeli government will not grant them building permits. The neighbourhood is thus highly overcrowded, underdeveloped and has been a regular spot for clashes with Israeli occupation forces.


    IN PICTURES: A Jerusalem village under siege


    Salam Mheisen, a resident and activist of al-Issawiya, says many of the Israeli army raids carried out there are part of the training that the police or army do.

    "Either they [police] come to arrest people or they're just doing rounds to explore the area. The construction of houses is very random here, so there are many small and narrow roads that the army and police face difficulty entering," Mheisin told Al Jazeera. "They practise in case when clashes do happen, they know where to come from and target us."

    Such training is not unique to East Jerusalem; it also occurs throughout the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, according to the al-Haq human rights organisation based in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

    "Many times forces or police enter Palestinian villages in the suburbs and they tell them to evacuate. When the residents are allowed back in, they find that their property has been damaged," Zahi Jaradat, head of field research at al-Haq, told Al Jazeera.

    "This is a violation of private property. The occupation is violating the rights of the residents to keep their private property safe," said Jaradat.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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