Palestine / Israel


A third of the police force in Israel is MAGAV (“Border Police”). This unit recruits via conscription, and is part both of the Israeli military and the Israeli police. While the name, “Border Police” infers they are responsible for securing the borders, MAGAV deal mostly with borders between populations - between Israeli-Jews and Palestinians - and also assists the riot police in “controlling demonstrations”, thus blurring the lines between “fighting terror” and “controlling demonstrations”. The MAGAV draws the line between the two by ethnicity rather than actual action.

Because the Israeli army isn't fighting a formal Palestinian military, the Israeli police and army do the same thing - control a civil population in the name of “security”. The main difference is the legal status of the population targeted, and whether they function due to military rule in the West Bank or according to state rule in Israel. The MAGAV have led raids on unrecognised villages such as Al-Arakib, which is inside the 1967 Israeli borders, in a similar manner to that of the army raiding villages in the West Bank. The law restricts the police from using the live ammunition and rubber bullets that are used by the army, but weaponry such as tear gas, skunk (a foul smelling liquid spray) and sponge bullets, often used by the army in the West Bank, are used to disperse demonstrations within the green line as well. This is mostly seen in east Jerusalem, at demonstrations of minority populations such as ultra orthodox, Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, and obviously, Palestinian citizens of Israel.