The IDF Central Command has modified its rules of engagement in the West Bank, setting down more stringent guidelines regarding when soldiers are allowed to open fire at Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to the new guidelines, soldiers are not allowed to open fire, even in the air, toward Palestinians who are stoning them. In addition, soldiers driving in an armored jeep are not allowed to shoot at a Palestinian who is about to throw a Molotov cocktail at them.

In the past, soldiers serving in Judea and Samaria were allowed to shoot at Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails. They were also allowed to shoot in the air to disperse Palestinians throwing rocks.

Under the new rules of engagement, they are only allowed to open fire if the Palestinian is throwing a Molotov cocktail at a civilian car. To shoot in the air, soldiers need to first receive permission from high-ranking commanders, something not needed in the past.

The new regulations were instituted several months ago following the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi as commander of the Central Command, and to the dismay of the IDF’s tactical level, which conducts hundreds of daily patrols throughout the Palestinian Authority, often coming under a hail of rocks and the occasional Molotov cocktail.

The decision to change the rules of engagement was made in line with IDF policy to avoid violence in the West Bank as part of Israeli efforts to bolster the PA.

“The fear is that violence, shooting and casualties will stymie Israeli and Palestinian efforts to improve the situation on the ground in the West Bank,” one defense official said on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the Military Police began investigating the shooting of two Palestinians on Saturday near Nablus who were killed, likely by IDF troops, during a protest. The soldiers were supposed to only use rubber bullets.

On Monday, Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, established a team of medical and forensic experts to probe the clashes that led to the deaths of Useid Qadus, 16, who was shot in the head, and Muhammad Qadus, also 16, who died of a wound to the chest.

The IDF stressed that soldiers were under strict orders to use rubber bullets to disperse the demonstration on Saturday. On Sunday night, IDF officers met with PA security officials and reviewed the CT scan of Qadus’s head to see if they could determine the type of bullet that was used.

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