Do IDF restrictions on opening fire at the Gaza border endanger soldiers?

"They restrict us from opening fire and they're always changing the rules about it," one Paratroopers Brigade commander told Walla.

February 19, 2019 18:43
2 minute read.
Palestinian demonstrators protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the central Gaza Strip January

Palestinian demonstrators protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the central Gaza Strip January 25, 2019. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)


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IDF commanders of the Gaza Division expressed strong criticism of fire-opening regulations during violent demonstrations by Palestinians on the Gaza border security fence, according to a report on Walla news on Sunday.

"They restrict us from opening fire and they're always changing the rules about it," one Paratroopers Brigade commander told Walla. "When we ask the commanders above us why the rules were changed, we are told that there was a new assessment of the situation, and these are the (new) guidelines."
According to the commander, the instructions for opening fire changes from case to case.

"In some cases, the company commander allows it and in some cases, only the battalion commander and above are allowed to (order) open fire," he said.

Walla reported that there is similar criticism among the Armored Corps.

An Armored Corp commander told Walla that when they were first deployed on the Gaza border, they were told to return fire if IDF soldiers were hit by sniper fire.

However, they were instructed that they must receive approval from commanders before opening fire.

This is what happened on Friday when a IDF soldier was injured from an improvised explosive device during the weekly March of Return riot.

According what to the soldiers told Walla, they feel as if the IDF's failure to respond harshly to the incident when a bullet hit the helmet of a Paratroopers Brigade commander has emboldened the terrorists. Since the incident, they said, the terrorists have been approaching the fence in more brazen ways.

Hamas prepares for their Friday riots with the same routine each time, the soldiers told Walla. They start by lighting tires on fire to create smoke screens that make it difficult for the IDF forces to see the terrorists.

They plow the dirt near the security fence with bulldozers, sometimes piling up mounds of dirt which terrorists use to hide behind, armed with Molotov cocktails, improvised explosive devices, stones and cutting tools for the fence.

At other times, they dig underground trenches to surprise the IDF patrols, as well as to avoid being hit by sniper-fire.

Sources told Walla that "
Hamas is encouraging the Palestinian public to approach the security fence. They understand that since the IDF is not interested in escalation, they try to refrain from responding harshly to the rioters."

here are rules about opening fire near the security fence to allow IDF forces to deal with a variety of threats, including terrorist attacks, violent disturbances and infiltration attempts into Israel," an IDF spokesperson told Walla in a response to the criticism.

The rules allow the commanders to use their discretion to respond to situations in the field according to their assessment. From time to time, adjustments in the use of force in the field are made, but the claims regarding recent changes of rules about opening fire are incorrect."


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