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Reports: Israel army changed open fire regulations in Gaza

Israeli security forces can be seen on patrol during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank on 12 December 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Reports in the Israeli media suggest that the Israeli military has made changes to its open fire regulations for soldiers repressing Great March of Return protests in the occupied Gaza Strip.

According to Maariv correspondent Tal Lev-Ram, writing last Friday, the Israeli army "internalised lessons" after the first two weeks of the protests, which began on 30 March, following a "very high" death toll amongst Palestinian demonstrators at the hands of Israeli snipers.

According to Lev-Ram, as a result of such "lessons" being learned, the number of fatalities has decreased each week.

Lev-Ram further reported on Sunday that the lack of fatalities amongst Palestinian demonstrators this past Friday was "not coincidental" and reflected changes in how the Israeli army has dealt with the protests.

READ: Medics in Gaza report Israel forces using devastating 'butterfly bullet'

Meanwhile, Asaf Ronel, foreign news editor at Haaretz, tweeted that while "it took more than a month", the Israeli army "finally realised that killing unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza is bad & changed its rules of engagement accordingly. The results: no deaths in Friday protests."

On Monday, Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel similarly reported that the Israeli army "is now showing more restraint in handling these demonstrations".

During a Supreme Court hearing on 30 April, following a petition by human rights groups, the Israeli government lawyer said that the rules of engagement had indeed changed since protests began: "the instructions about from what range to fire and how to size up and define a dangerous situation were continually evolving, as the IDF [army] has been learning from each round of protests."

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