Israel rejected the urging of the Biden administration to review its open fire rules in the wake of the Israeli report that Abu-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh may have accidentally been killed by IDF fire.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for naval officers on Wednesday, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said: “I hear the calls to prosecute IDF soldiers following the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. I hear the calls to change our rules of engagement. The DF never intentionally shoots at innocent people. We are deeply committed to freedom of the press and to some of the most stringent rules of engagement in the world.”
“But to be clear – I will not allow an IDF soldier that was protecting himself from terrorist fire to be prosecuted just to receive applause from abroad. No one will dictate our rules of engagement to us when we are the ones fighting for our lives. Our soldiers have the full backing of the government of Israel and the people of Israel.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated the same message on Wednesday, saying: “The IDF’s Chief of Staff, and he alone, determines and will continue to determine the rules of engagement in accordance with our operational needs and values of the IDF.”
“These instructions are implemented in a strict manner by soldiers and their commanders. There has not been, and there will not be any political involvement in the matter. IDF troops have my full backing in their mission to protect the citizens of Israel.”
The statements come a day after State Department Deputy Vedant Patel spokesperson told reporters that the Biden administration is pressing Israel to review its rules of engagement.
“We’re going to continue to press our Israeli partner to closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement and consider additional steps to mitigate the risk of civilian harm, protect journalists and prevent similar tragedies in the future,” he said.
“That is a key goal for us.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)