JERUSALEM - Israel's attorney general has eased firing regulation restrictions against Palestinians demonstrating at the separation barrier near Jerusalem, a justice ministry official said on Wednesday.
The decision allows border police snipers to fire at protestors damaging the controversial barrier that Israel is constructing in occupied east Jerusalem and across the West Bank, he said.
Under the new regulations, snipers may fire at the legs of adults tagged as "key instigators," according to the mass-selling Maariv daily. Firing on Israeli and foreign citizens remains banned.
Border police snipers armed with Ruger 22 rifles have already started applying the new regulations, and over the past month alone 13 Palestinians have been shot in the legs in the Jerusalem area, the report said.
The semi-automatic Ruger 22 is widely used for target shooting sports and for hunting, but Israel's security forces have been using the American-manufactured rifle for sharp shooting.
Israel says the massive barrier, made of electric fencing, barbed wire and concrete walls, is needed to stop potential attackers from infiltrating the country and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinians have denounced it as an "apartheid wall" aimed at grabbing their land and undermining the viability of their promised state.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued a non-binding ruling that parts of the 650-kilometre (410-mile) barrier criss-crossing the West Bank are illegal and should be torn down.