Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday decried accusations that the IDF was to blame for the death of an Israeli soldier on the Gaza border, saying that they are politically motivated.
“Some are trying to use the IDF as a cudgel to advance cynical political goals. It hurts our resilience and it’s inappropriate. Stop it,” said Bennett at the weekly cabinet meeting.
“As someone who knows the battlefield and has commanded soldiers, and as someone who has lost the best of his comrades, I know that while making decisions at an operational level, there are sometimes mistakes, and sometimes they are painful and difficult.
“This is how it is when fighting the enemy, and the soldiers and commanders need to be supported, especially when there are mistakes,” he said.
Barel Hadaria Shmueli Hy”d was shot and killed at point-blank range by a Palestinian gunman on August 21 while responding to rioting at the border fence.
His family, along with right-wing activists and opposition politicians, blamed the IDF for issuing overly restrictive rules of engagement that hampered their ability to protect themselves while quelling the disorders.
Shmueli’s father has suggested Bennett should resign over the incident, and the family has demanded an independent investigation of the incident.
In its probe, the IDF determined the open-fire regulations were not the cause of death—noting that Shmueli himself fired at the rioters when they rushed the border—and said instead that the issue was the way in which troops were deployed.
Responding to the criticism, IDF chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi called on the public to back the army.
“A society that does not back its soldiers and commanders, including when they make mistakes, will discover that it has nobody to fight for it,” Kohavi wrote in a letter addressed to military commanders.