The controversy arose after photos surfaced showing a man pointing a gun at an image of a person wearing a traditional Arab headdress.
Panama police have apologized for participating in an Israeli-led training session after footage showed officers firing at targets that appeared to depict people in traditional Arab clothing.
The controversy arose after photos emerged from the training, including a man pointing a gun at an image of an armed person wearing a traditional headdress.
The images were posted on Twitter by the National Police and the local Israeli Chamber of Commerce, but were later removed.
“We respect cultural, religious and ethnic differences,” the police said in a statement on Friday. “We regret that … a situation has arisen that is beyond the nature of our mission and duty.”
The deleted Twitter posts said the training was organized by the Israeli embassy in Panama.
The Palestinian Information Bureau in Panama also condemned the training.
“The shooting training codes of conduct only accept silhouettes without images… [this] is an act of discrimination and racism that Panama cannot tolerate,” the office said in a statement, local media reported.
#Edition | We regret that during an act in which we as an institution participated as invited guests, a situation arose that is outside the nature of our mission and task as the first security institution. pic.twitter.com/h2MebZOLR7
– National Police (@ProtegeryServir) October 2, 2021
Translation: We regret that during an act in which we participated as an institution as an invitee, a situation has arisen that is outside the nature of our mission and duty as a first security institution.
The controversy led to a reprimand from the Panamanian Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, which said the course “promoted violence and racism so that anyone wearing a hijab or the like can be classified as a terrorist.”
The committee also asked the government to cancel the “intervention” of foreign countries in the training of security forces.
“This training violates protocols referring to the shooting courses that prohibit the use of distinctive figures of the Arab peoples as objects of hatred and persecution,” the statement said.
“We call on the national government to cancel the intervention of Israel and other countries … in our security forces,” it added.
The training also led to condemnations on social media.
What a pity @ProtegeryServir are trained by the Israeli embassy @IsraelinPanama to shoot using the image of a person with a Kufiya @copasolpa @TodayPalestine @CancilleriaPma @CoplacOficial https://t.co/EG7j1ivYQN pic.twitter.com/zxcimhMVDl
– Pedro Silva Underdog☭?? (@PedroUnderdog09) October 1, 2021
Translation: What a shame [the police forces] are trained by the Israeli embassy to shoot using the image of a person with a Kufiya
What does the Panamanian police gain by posting a photo of a Palestinian woman as a symbol of terrorism? pic.twitter.com/6si1Vg3Khg
— Ruben Murgas (@RubenMurgas) October 1, 2021
Translation: What do the Panamanian police gain by posting a photo of a Palestinian woman as a symbol of terrorism?