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IDF Wants to Define M16 Rifle as “Non-Lethal”

New definition would facilitate use of assault rifles to disperse civilians

Uri Blau, Kol Ha'ir

26 Sep. 2001

The Israeli army has been holding discussions about defining sniper rifle M16 A3 as a “non-lethal weapon.” This new definition will facilitate use of the rifle to disperse riots, IDF soldiers will be able to use it against a demonstrating civilian population. The said 5.56mm caliber rifle is well known to be a lethal weapon, capable of causing severe injury or death.

Discussions take place in the legal department of the IDF’s attorney general’s office, headed by Colonel Daniel Reisner. Attorney Dan Yakir, legal adviser to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has told Kol Ha’ir that the new definition, if it is adopted, will be legally meaningless, and will not protect the army against lawsuits in this matter, since it is evident that the weapon is lethal. Many of the people killed this last year were hit by sniper rifles.

Various states, including Israel, have for decades been developing non-lethal riot dispersal weapons, actually for dispersing protests and demonstrations without casualties. Israeli research and development in this vein bloomed during the first Intifada. Among the weapons employed at that time were rubber coated metal bullets (also lethal from short range), pebble shooting armored vehicles (“pebblers”), and high pressure water shooters. The IDF spokesman before this story was sent to press.


Kol Ha'ir Magazine is published on Fridays by the Schoken Local Press, there is no on-line edition, the staff can be contacted by email.