Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz/TPS
President of the US Joe Biden is greeted by PM Yair Lapid, President Isaac Herzog and Alternate PM Naftali Bennett after landing at Ben Gurion International Airport on his official visit to Israel. Lod, Jul 13, 2022.

Israeli officials vigorously pushed back against demands put forward by the Biden administration that the IDF review and stiffen its rules of engagement.

State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters on Tuesday that the Biden administration “continue[s] to press our Israeli partners to closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement and consider additional steps to mitigate the risk of civilian harm, protect journalists, and prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

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He was relating to the death of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was probably mistakenly killed by IDF fire during a counterterrorism operation in the Jenin Refugee Camp on May 11.

Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated in response that the IDF’s rules of engagement “will be determined by the IDF commanders, independent of any pressure – internal or external.”

“This is the truth: At any given moment there are Palestinian terrorists trying to murder Israelis. Not the other way around,” he stressed.

“Our hand is not light on the trigger, but the moral order is to hit terrorists and thus save human lives. As prime minister, I gave full backing to our fighters, and I expect our friends in the world not to preach morality to us but to back us in our war on terror,” he said.

Danny Danon, Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, said that “the State Department is right.”

“No doubt, the US State Department is absolutely right. We must change the rules of engagement, to make sure that our soldiers can protect themselves and make it easier for them to shoot terrorists. There is nothing more important and sacred than the lives of IDF soldiers,” he said.

Ariel Kahana, diplomatic correspondent for the Israel Hayom daily, wrote that “it is becoming clear that the days when the Biden administration treated Israel gently are over”.

“Initially, the Americans forced a meticulous investigation on Israel in the Shirin Abu Akleh case. The investigation led to Israel taking de facto responsibility.

As for Patel’s remarks, it appears that “America now wants to decide for us what the IDF’s opening engagement instructions will be.”

“While Prime Minister Yair Lapid has said that wants ‘not to break things with the administration,’ but this smashes them on his head. The situation can already be defined as a head-to-head confrontation between Jerusalem and Washington,” he explained.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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