Israel has installed two robotic weapons in the West Bank that can fire tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades with remote control.
One of the devices sits over a Palestinian refugee camp and the other is in the volatile city of Hebron. They use artificial intelligence to track targets and have been installed amid heightened unrest in the region.
Israeli officials say the weapons are there to protect all, but they’ve been placed in areas where pro-Palestinian protests are common.
Witnesses in the Al-Aroub refugee camp told ABC News that when protesters enter the streets and begin throwing rocks, the machines fire tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets. The Israeli military has not said if it will add units to other locations.
The weapons are not manned and are fired by remote control. Israel said the weapons are in the testing stage and are firing “non-lethal” weapons for crowd control.
Residents of Al-Aroub say the machines fire without warning and often cover the hillside camp in tear gas.
“We don’t open the window, we don’t open the door. We know not to open anything,” shopkeeper Hussein al-Muzyeen told ABC News.
Israeli weapons manufacturer SmartShooter makes the weapons.
Violence in the region has increased in recent months. Israel has stepped up arrests and raids in the West Bank after several Palestinian attacks killed 19 throughout the country. So far, 130 Palenstinians and 10 Israelis have been killed because of the unrest.
The return of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister and the hard-line alliance being formed to govern is also stoking concerns.