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Undercover Gunmen Open Fire At Palestinian Stone-Throwers

The Huffington Post 7/10/2015 Jessica Schulberg
RAMALLAH © Credit: Agence France Presse RAMALLAH

At least two Palestinians were wounded by gunmen disguised as fellow protesters in a group of men throwing stones at Israeli security forces in Ramallah on Wednesday. After participating in the stone throwing, several gunmen suddenly drew their weapons and fired point blank at the Palestinians.

The plainclothes gunmen were immediately joined by over a dozen uniformed Israeli soldiers, who can be seen on video beating, kicking and pointing assault weaponry at the Palestinians before dragging them toward Humvee-style vehicles.

While the Israeli military reports that two Palestinians were injured in the gunfight, Agence France-Presse, which has posted video, counts three men among the injured.

The incident can also be seen in video posted by the Shehab News Agency:

Reuters reporter Luke Baker tweeted that the gunmen were undercover Israeli police officers who had been inciting the Palestinians to throw rocks at the soldiers before firing at the stone-throwers themselves.

The Israeli military has not yet commented on whether the plainclothes gunmen are formally affiliated with its security forces, but the video footage appears to show them working in close cooperation with the uniformed soldiers.

In addition to those wounded by the gunmen, 18 Palestinians sustained injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets during Wednesday's clash in Ramallah, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported .

The clash occurred near Beit El, an Israeli settlement adjacent to Ramallah. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman told The Times of Israel that 350 Palestinians threw stones, Molotov cocktails and fireworks at Israeli soldiers. "In response, the IDF fired at the main agitators," the spokesman said.

Last month, Israel’s Security Cabinet unanimously voted to lower the bar  for the use of live fire against stone-throwers. The new rules allow Israeli police officers to fire their weapons if they believe any individual's life is in danger, not just their own.

"We intend to change the norm that has become established … that the state of Israel allows these deadly and murderous objects to be thrown without response and without being thwarted," the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement at the time. "This will change."

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