Police armed with 'soft-point' bullets this yearBy David Ratner, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Police were equipped this year with soft-point bullets, commonly known as Dum-Dums, for use with small-caliber carbine rifles. The bullets, banned internationally for armies since the Hague convention early last century, are designed to increase damage when striking a body. They are primarily used for hunting, and are commonly found in gun shops in North America. Some counter-terror units in police forces around the world are also equipped with such ammunition.
Ha'aretz has a box of 50 such soft-point bullets, imprinted with the Israel Police emblem as well as the SP marking, indicating they are soft-point. Like the hollow-point variety, soft-point bullets also expand on impact.
Of late, the Israel Police has been working with Israel Military Industries, testing a new rifle known as the Magal. The rifle has been distributed to hundreds of units in the police, and responses to the weapon's performance is being relayed back to IMI for the purpose of making revisions to the rifle's production line. As of now, the Israel Police is the only agency testing the Magal.
The office of the police spokesman refused to directly answer whether the soft-point bullets were considered standard equipment for the police, whether the police were using another type of carbine ammunition, whether equipping police with soft-point bullets met the criteria laid down by international treaties, and whether the ammunition was permitted for use in situations in which citizens could be targeted. "Like any security force, the police does not comment on the type of ammunition in its possession and how it is used," the spokesman's office said.
There have been consistent reports and complaints from Arab legal groups - such as Mussawa, which investigated police conduct during the October rioting last year when 13 Arab citizens were killed by police gunfire - that police used Dum-Dum bullets in at least some of the shootings.
Mussawa has yet to provide incontrovertible evidence of its claims, but did photograph bullets removed from the bodies of individuals shot during the rioting. Jaffer Ferah of Mussawa said that some of the doctors who had conducted autopsies on the dead and had treated the wounded, had said that some of the injuries clearly showed that the ammunition that was used had expanded on impact. "We formally approached the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Unit about this issue, but have yet to receive a response," he said.
Yesterday, Mussawa activists showed reporters a photograph of two bullets they said had been removed from the body of Wissam Izbek, who was killed in Nazareth on the eve of Yom Kippur. The photograph did not allow for an accurate identification of the type of bullet.
The Israel Police is refusing to comment on any questions regarding
the events last October saying that due to the Or Commission inquiry,
it cannot comment on the events.