Israel uses automatic weapons in the West Bank

Israel uses automatic weapons in the West Bank

In two areas of the occupied West Bank, Israel has placed automatic weapons that can fire tear gas, stun grenades and Sponge bullets on Palestinian demonstrators.

Weapons located in the Arroub refugee camp and Hebron city use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives – both Israeli and Palestinian. But critics see moral or ethical problems with these weapon systems.


The automatic weapon systems come at a time of heightened tensions in the occupied West Bank. Unrest there has escalated during the bloodiest year since 2006.

The victory of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, which includes a party closely linked to the settler movement, raised fears of more violence.

One of the weapon systems is on a guard tower overlooking the Arroub refugee camp in the southern West Bank. Eyewitnesses say that when young Palestinian demonstrators entered the streets and threw stones and petrol bombs at the occupation soldiers, the weapons fired tear gas or sponge bullets at them.

About a month ago, the army also placed the robots in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian stone-throwers. The army declined to comment on its plans to deploy the system elsewhere in the West Bank.

Palestinian activist Issa Amro said that Hebron residents feared misuse of the new weapon Hacked. He added that people also do not like what they say is weapons testing on civilians.

“We are not a training and simulation for Israeli companies,” he said. “This is something new that needs to be stopped.”

There are no soldiers next to the machines. Instead, the weapons are operated by remote control. At the touch of a button, soldiers inside a guard tower can fire at specific targets.

The military says the system is being tested and only fires “non-lethal” weapons used for crowd control, such as sponge bullets and tear gas.

Palestinians walk past an Israeli military guard tower with two automatic rifles and surveillance cameras in the Arroub refugee camp in the West Bank, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Elean)

around the world

Robotic weapons are increasingly spreading around the world. Militaries use drones to carry out deadly strikes in places like Ukraine and Ethiopia. Remote-controlled guns like the Israeli system have been used in the West Bank by the United States in Iraq, by South Korea along the border with North Korea, and by Syrian rebel groups.

Known for its advanced military technologies, Israel is among the largest producers of ever capable drones in the world provisionsGuided missiles. It has erected a fence along its border with the Gaza Strip, equipped with radar and sensors underground and underwater. Above ground, a robotic vehicle, equipped with cameras and automatic rifles, is used to patrol the border.

“Israel uses technology as a means of controlling the civilian population,” said Dror Sadot, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. She said that even supposedly non-lethal weapons such as sponge bullets can cause severe pain and even be fatal.

The system is being built at El Arroub by Smart Shooter, a company that makes “fire control systems” that it says “increase accuracy, lethality, and situational awareness for small arms.” The company deals with many militaries around the world, including the US Army.

Speaking at the company’s headquarters in Kibbutz Yagur in northern Israel, CEO Michal Moore said the rifle requires human selection of military targets and equipment.

“They always have a guy… who makes the decision about it Lawful goal,” she said.

She said the system reduces injuries and deaths by distancing soldiers from violence and making shooting more accurate.

Unclear future

But Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said Israel is in “aslip Towards the digitization of weapons systems.” By using these technologies, Shakir said, Israel is creating a “powder keg of human rights violations.” A powder keg is a situation that has the potential to become dangerous or violent.

In Al-Aroub, residents say machines shoot without warning.

“They are very fast, even faster than the soldiers,” said Kamel Abu Hashish, a 19-year-old student. He described the clashes that took place almost at night as the soldiers entered the camp on behalf of automated Tear gas gun.

Paul Scharr of the Center for a New American Security is a former US Army marksman. Without emotion and with better purpose, he said, automated systems can reduce violence.

But he said the absence of international rules for “killer bots” is problematic. Otherwise, he said, it is only a matter of time before these weapon systems are equipped to use lethal force.

I’m John Russell.

And I’m Ashley Thompson.

Sam McNeil reported this story for the Associated Press. John Russell has adapted it for VOA Learning English.


words in this story

Inverted sponge bullet -n. A type of projectile designed to break or pierce the skin

hack – Fifth. Computers : To secretly access files on a computer or network in order to obtain information, cause damage, etc.

provisions — number. Resolution quality: Accuracy or precision

Lawful – permitted according to rules or laws; real, accepted or official

slip – number. A movement to a lower or worse state or state

automated – : to operate or operate (something, such as a plant or a system) using machines, computers, etc., rather than people



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