Gantz Rebuffs Accusations IDF to Blame for Soldier’s Death

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz. (Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday rebuffed accusations that the IDF was to blame for the recent death of an Israeli soldier because of overly restrictive open-fire regulations for troops responding to rioting along the Gaza border.

“I want to stress that IDF soldiers have full support to act to neutralize all those who have the means and the intention [to harm them] and in accordance with protocols. The rules of engagement are determined by the military command alone, in accordance with the law and the operational need, and this is how it will continue,” Gantz said.

Barel Hadaria Shmueli Hy”d was fatally shot by a Palestinian terrorist along the Israel-Gaza border on Aug. 21. Video footage from the Palestinian side showed a terrorist running up to the concrete barrier and firing a pistol into a hole reportedly used by Shmueli. He succumbed to his wounds at Soroka Medical Hospital on Monday afternoon.

Family members are demanding an inquiry into his death. A letter was sent to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, as well as other senior military officials, charged that the IDF failed to properly prepare for dispersing the violent Palestinian rioters, used insufficient means and stationed soldiers along openings in the barrier, despite obvious dangers.

“The IDF deals with operations every day, every hour and it is an organization with one of the best cultures of investigations in Israel and in the world. I trust the chief of staff, the head of the [Southern] Command and all of the officials will know to learn the necessary lessons in the deepest [way] and [with the] utmost transparency,” Gantz said.