At the end of a legal battle waged by Israel’s Civil Rights Association and after many years during which police regulations for the use of water cannons, skunk spray and stun grenades were hidden from the public, Israel Police revamped and publicized new regulations for their use to the public, Mynet reported on Tuesday evening.
The new regulations were also spurred by last month’s appalling incident in which an elderly couple, who had passed close by to a protest but was completely uninvolved in it, was brutally knocked to the ground by a water cannon. In the wake of the incident, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai was summoned to a hearing in the Knesset on the matter. The couple also filed a lawsuit against the police.
According to the new regulations, the “firing range” of the water cannon was increased to 20 meters instead of 13 meters, and the permitted intensity of the stream was halved. Additionally, the use and operation of water cannons will be carried out only by police officers who have been certified to do so.
Skunk spray cannot be sprayed directly at houses and porches and the permitted “firing range” also increased to 20 meters instead of 13 meters.
Regarding the use of stun grenades, the police are prohibited from throwing them at closed buildings and they must be thrown at protesters only from a distance.
Many Chareidim have complained about the disproportionate use of water cannons and skunk spray at demonstrations in Jerusalem. For example, families living in the Bar Ilan area have complained that water cannons have caused damage to their homes, including the shattering of windows and destruction of furniture and objects inside their apartments.
In 2019, an agreement was reached by a Jerusalem court after the owners of Pizza Beitit filed a lawsuit against Israel Police for its negligent use of skunk spray which caused damage to their store.
UTJ MK Uri Maklev responded to the publication of the new regulations for the use of water cannons by stating: “We welcome the publication of the police procedures but this tool is still a destructive one and we expect that the operating police officers will comply with these procedures.”
“These procedures testify to the necessity of our bill that will lead to the enforcement of the procedures by recording the police officers’ activities with these tools. We will continue to promote the bill in the Knesset.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)