New rules of engagement were handed down Tuesday, July 11, to the Israeli military, police and Border Guard units serving in Judea and Samaria that effectively prohibit them from shooting Palestinians found hurling firebombs, carrying out knife attacks or other acts of terror. Henceforth, security forces are restricted to firing in the air. The new orders came from OC IDF Central Command Ronnie Numah. They are a radical departure from the present rules and the first broad restrictions to be imposed on the troops since 15 years ago, then prime minister Ehud Barak forbade security forces to shoot at Palestinian terrorists or their bases – only to turn their fire on vacant ground nearby. The second intifada had erupted by then.
The new directives are as follows:
- Troops are restricted to firing in the air when they – or any other Israeli targets – come under Palestinian firebomb attack.
- Ditto in the case of knifing attacks – even if this means letting the assailant get away.
- They may open direct gunfire on armed terrorists only when they are caught red-handed on the scene. Once they escape, only firing in the air is permitted.
- In general, troops and police are not allowed to shoot Palestinian terrorists in almost any circumstance unless their own lives are clearly in danger.
debkafile’s military sources report that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott have changed the rules in an attempt to reverse the rising spiral of Palestinian deaths in the course of recent violent engagements. It is also an attempt to cool flaming Palestinian tempers on the West Bank – especially since the arson murder of a Palestinian toddler and her father in the village of Duma earlier this month. The perpetrators have not so far been found or identified.
It is not known whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu endorsed the new rules of engagement.
According to our sources, they went down badly with many of the soldiers and policemen serving on the West Bank in security capacities. They believe they are being put in harm’s way and maintain that the new rules will open the door to an upsurge of Palestinian terrorism and cause many more Israeli deaths. One IDF officer commented wryly: “It has been decided that an increase in Israeli casualties is preferable to high statistics of Palestinian terrorist deaths.”