BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- During a police and rescue services community relations event held on Monday for hundreds of Israeli fifth-graders in the coastal Israeli city of Ramat HaSharon, Israeli police attempted to recreate what rights groups have termed “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians allegedly or actually attempting to carry out attacks on Israelis, in order to teach the children how to “take over a terrorist.”
A video released of the incident shows four Israeli police officers pulling up on motorcycles with their sirens blaring. Before they reach where the “assailant” is standing, they begin to indiscriminately open fire in his direction. The police shoot dozens of live rounds until the pretend assailant collapses to the ground, at which point the police continue shooting bullets.
Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that before the demonstration a police officer warned the children that they would hear gunshots. The audience was informed that the police continued shooting the “assailant” after he collapsed to the group in order to “make sure he was dead.”
At least one parent expressed their shock at the demonstration, telling Haaretz "has someone there lost his mind? It's simply stupidity for its own sake, this demonstration of fire. Can't you bring a traffic cop to demonstrate how he gives a ticket to an offender - they have to see how to dismantle magazines?"
While the local police chief officially apologized for the incident, the Israeli police reportedly said in a statement that they “regret” that some had presented a “positive and empowering event” in a “biased manner,” adding that the event was focused on children “learning about good citizenship and the role of police in society.”
Israeli forces have long been accused of using excessive force on Palestinians who did not pose an immediate threat to Israeli police and military at the time of their deaths. The demonstration for the Israeli children parallels numerous incidents involving Palestinians allegedly wielding knives and being shot almost immediately by Israeli forces who typically release several rounds of bullets into alleged attackers.
Palestinians and rights groups routinely condemn what they have referred to as a “shoot-to-kill” policy of Palestinians who could have easily been disarmed and detained without being shot to death by Israeli forces.
In the most recent incident on Sunday, 16-year-old Palestinian Fatima Hjeiji was shot to death in occupied East Jerusalem for allegedly attempting to carry out an attack on Israeli police and border guards, with witnesses saying that Israeli forces had shot the girl at least 20 times.
After the shooting, an eyewitness told Ma’an that Hjeiji had been standing near Damascus Gate, more than ten meters away from a group of Israeli border guard soldiers, before she was killed.
"One of the soldiers started to shout ‘knife! knife!’ and moments after that, about five soldiers opened fire at her from every direction," he said.
Another witness said that the girl was “executed in cold blood,” expressing shock at the extent of indiscriminate force used on the teenage girl, allegedly armed with only a knife.
Similar narratives are often expressed by Palestinians in other incidents involving Israeli forces.
Haaretz also pointed out that community events such as these are not unheard of among the Israeli security forces, saying that other events glorifying Israeli violence against Palestinians were also held during Israel’s independence day.
One event included the Israeli army setting up a booth in the illegal Israeli settlement of Tekoa in the Palestinian territory, where Israeli children had their “limbs painted to resemble shrapnel and stab wounds, with people present saying children as young as 5 were joining in,” according to Haaretz.