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Rules of engagement to remain in effect in West Bank, Gantz says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A limit on the use of live fire by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank will remain in place, despite requests by settlers and politicians to ease the restrictions, Israel’s military chief said.

“We won’t ease the rules of engagement,” Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff, said Tuesday. “If we let go of the reins, there will be an escalation and we’ll lose control.”

Gantz at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee suggested that soldiers should receive more instructions on how to adhere to the rules of engagement before going out in the field. Some right-wing lawmakers have been pressuring Gantz to ease the restrictions on use of live fire.

Reuven Rivlin of the Likud Party called for the easing of restrictions on the rules of engagement.

“Seeing besieged IDF soldiers withdraw in the face of rioters requires the IDF to think anew the instructions given to soldiers on the ground,” the former Knesset speaker told the committee.

Soldiers are prohibited from firing on Palestinian suspects who throw rocks and Molotov cocktails, except under extreme circumstances.

Arab rock attacks have increased by more than three times over 2011 and firebombings have jumped more than four times since 2011, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on Judea and Samaria was told last week.

Gantz also told the committee that he fully supports Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, the head of the IDF’s Central Command appointed by former Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Alon has been criticized by the settler movement and right-wing politicians as being too left wing for his post.

 

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