Probe Into Israeli-Arab Riots Shows Police Faced ‘Major’ Weapons Shortage

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli police seen on the streets of the city of  Lod, where shuls and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, by Arab rioters, May 12. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

A probe into the conduct of police during May’s Israeli-Arab riots across the country has revealed that officers faced a major shortage of weapons and equipment, which had been used up in the first days of the unrest.

Nationally motivated riots engulfed Israel’s mixed Arab and Jewish cities in the wake of clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and fighting between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip. At least one person was killed in the riots and several others were wounded.

According to police sources, the fear that disturbances would continue for more than a few days coupled with the lack of sufficient equipment to deal massive riots, at the time led police officials to ask the IDF for additional supplies.

The request, however, was denied due to legal issues preventing the use of military equipment in civilian areas outside Yehudah and Shomron.

“It was violence the scale of which has never been seen here, not even in the Second Intifada,” the sources added. “The intensity of the violence and the large number of hotspots obliged the police to use all its operational forces, its reserves, as well as a massive stock of riot dispersal equipment.

“If the massive and intense riots would have continued [sic] beyond four days, we would have found ourselves without the required equipment to face the rioters,” the source added. “It would have taken days, if not weeks, for a additional equipment to arrive from abroad.”

At the end of the operation, Police Chief Yaakov Shabtai requested a comprehensive investigation into the police’s conduct during the civil unrest throughout the country.

This led to the purchase of enough equipment to allow the police to maintain order for 35 consecutive days in case of extreme violence.

Among the equipment that was purchased are 320,000 stun grenades, gas missiles and sponges worth NIS 30 million, with a purchase of additional riot dispersal gear still pending.