Israeli police have been caught on film in a mock shooting operation against an “assailant” in front of a crowd of fifth-graders. Parents expressed shock at the demonstration, while police justified it as strengthening “the children’s sense of security.”
Four police officers with guns are seen on film riding on two motorcycles with sirens blaring, firing shots as they approach the “terrorist.” The video posted on social media shows groups of children sitting on the grass as they watch the demonstration.
The officers get off the motorcycles and continue shooting for 13 seconds – even after the target is lying on the ground – in order to “make sure he [the terrorist] was dead,” Haaretz daily reports.
The young audience was reportedly warned about the gunshots beforehand, according to Israeli media.
Applause can be heard on the video after the mock operation concludes. Parents, however, were apparently not so happy with the show.
“Children are not supposed to be exposed to showcases of killing and terror,” head of the National Parents’ Association Paz Cohen is cited by the Times of Israel as saying, adding that “the judgement behind this demonstration is bewildering.”
One parent who saw the demonstration with his own eyes slammed the event as “too violent” and unsuitable for children.
“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?” one father told Haaretz. “It mainly scares the children,” he added.
The mayor of Ramat Hasharon municipality, Avi Gruber, condemned the incident, saying that it was especially inappropriate after last year’s incident involving an Israeli soldier who shot a Palestinian attacker lying on the ground.
“In light of the Elor Azaria incident, it can’t be that the Israel Police itself would show a situation in which a man is lying on the floor and is being shot this way,” the mayor told Haaretz.
Although the police apologized in a phone call, according to Gruber, a police spokeswoman praised the demonstration as a way to “strengthen the children’s sense of security” during an interview on local TV.
“The demonstration strengthens the children’s sense of security [in light of] the reality in which we live in Israel,” she is quoted as saying by the Times of Israel. “The children know the Israel Police defend all of us.”
The Israeli security forces have repeatedly faced accusations of using excessive violence against Palestinians. In one recent incident, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl was shot “in cold blood” by Israeli police after reportedly attempting a knife attack in Jerusalem on Sunday. In March, an eight-year-old Palestinian boy was grabbed and dragged away by IDF soldiers for alleged stone-throwing.