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Israel media suggests internal army debate over open fire rules

AFP photographer Joe Dyke lies on the floor as he gets injured by the intervention of Israeli forces while covering demonstrations in the village of Ras Karkar near Ramallah, West Bank on 4 September, 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

A report in the Jerusalem Post has suggested that there might be an internal debate within the Israeli army over the open fire regulations at the perimeter fence of the occupied Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, Israeli media outlet 0404 “reported that orders had come down allowing IDF soldiers to open fire on the border only in situations where they are being or about to be shot at.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, “broadly speaking, soldiers can currently open fire at Palestinians’ knees if they violate a security zone near the border in a way that poses a potential threat to life or to breaking through the fence.”

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The 0404 report “specifically said that firing on stone throwers and inciters was banned, though until now the open fire rules permitted firing on such persons in certain circumstances.”

However, in the same report, an army spokesperson “said that there had been no change to the rules of engagement, while alluding to the possibility that in different circumstances the rules might be implemented differently.”

The Jerusalem Post noted how the government told the Supreme Court on 30 April that “it had already modified its implementation of the open fire rules in light of the many Palestinian injuries”, adding that “it seems that the aggressiveness of the implementation of the open fire regulations have also gone up and down”.

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The paper also cited an unnamed army source who said “that there was no change at all at the high command level and that at most, possibly one senior commander on his own had given a briefing on open fire rules for particular circumstances, which had leaned more toward restraint.”

“Whatever the truth is,” the Jerusalem Post added, “the official word seems to be projecting the message of no major change.” That means “that at the top there is no current move to placate the International Criminal Court or other global critics over the open fire policy.”

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