Back in 2001, the Military Advocate General determined the Ruger and its .22 ammunition could not be considered riot control weapons and that the open-fire regulations for it would be as restrictive as those for assault rifles. Nevertheless, since then, Israeli soldiers have killed dozens of Palestinians and seriously injured many others using Ruger firearms in incidents considered riots, not warfare.

Through the stories of a handful of young victims who needlessly lost their lives due to the use of this weapon, this report aims to expose the deadly policy of the unwarranted use of Ruger firearms. A review of the test cases presented in this report, including the investigation materials received by Yesh Din, shows that the use of Ruger rifles for crowd control is prevalent and backed by police and military policy. Moreover, the fact that the Ruger is a potentially deadly weapon is not instilled in soldiers and police officers, who continue to perceive it as another non-lethal crowd control weapon, and, therefore, use it more readily.

The examples provided in this report point to a common practice, whereby Israeli snipers shoot Palestinians in the absence of any sign indicating real danger to the lives of security forces or civilians. Investigation materials forwarded to Yesh Din show that the military’s orders permit the use of potentially lethal force against individuals identified as key instigators during demonstrations and similar events, even when they do not pose an immediate threat to human life. The military’s policy also permits directing lethal fire, without warning, at individuals who appear to have sabotaged the fence with the aim of crossing it, even when they are a threat to no one. They pay for the “offense” with their lives.

The open-fire regulations, which allow using fire in a wide variety of scenarios that do not necessarily involve a threat to Israeli security forces,  effectively seek to provide a legal defense to soldiers and police officers who kill Palestinians and spare them from legal action. However, using live fire, including from a Ruger, in situations where there is no clear and immediate threat to life contravenes the law in effect under the law enforcement standard that governs incidents that are not considered warfare.

From soldiers and police officers on the ground, to the officers in charge of drafting and handing down the open-fire regulations, to the military law enforcement system that whitewashes the killing of Palestinians, Israel’s entire security establishment displays criminal disregard for Palestinian lives. The Ruger rifle is a lethal weapon for all intents and purposes. Its use as a sniper weapon cannot be considered comparable to crowd control weapons.

The Israeli security establishment must immediately stop using live fire, including by Ruger, during demonstrations and attempts to cross the fence. These are incidents that fall under the law enforcement paradigm, which restricts the use of lethal force and sets clear conditions for opening fire. Israel’s obfuscation of the distinction between warfare and criminal incidents, and, correspondingly, between civilians and combatants, defies the law and inevitably leads to the killing of innocents.