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IDF seeks to clarify rules of engagement

Military aims to meet demand for clear directives for engaging rioting Palestinians, following soldiers' complaints that their 'hands are tied'

Yoav Zitun
Published: 12.13.12, 00:59 / Israel News

The rapidly growing number of clashed between IDF soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank have prompted the IDF to issue new directives to the Judea and Samaria Division commanders regarding rules of engagement pertaining to stone-throwing incidents.

Soldiers serving in the West Bank complained in recent days that "their hands are tied" vis-à-vis Palestinian rioters in the sector, due to the military's orders to exercise restraint.

The directives came under scrutiny over the past few days over several embarrassing incidents, where soldiers had to flee rioters rather than engage them due to ambiguous orders.

The new directives, a copy of which was obtained by Ynet on Wednesday, aim to clarify the rules of engagement, and while they stress discretion, they clearly state that soldiers are allowed to open fire in the event of an imminent threat.

Clash at Qaddum

Amongst other things, the document states that, "During foot patrols, when soldiers identify that Israeli vehicles are being stones, constituting clear and present danger, they must fire to eliminate the threat only under the following conditions: Static and single shots, without endangering other vehicles."

In cases involving Molotov cocktails thrown at troops, the soldiers are ordered to "Fire at the source until the threat is neutralized."

"When on foot patrol, if protesters stone our forces, massively and physically endangering soldiers, suspect engaging procedures must be put into effect in full, culminating with aiming the weapon at the assailant's lower extremities. However, if the stoning poses to true physical threat the arrest should be conducted using reasonable force."

The document clearly stated that should IDF troops come under gunfire, they must respond by returning fire at the source and engaging any suspects.

Directives pertaining to fire protocols in checkpoints – both permanent and temporary ones – have also been clarified further.

The new orders also focus on vehicular terror attacks, i.e. – incidents when terrorists attempt to run soldiers over: "Should a directed attempt to run soldiers over be made and it cannot be thwarted, troops must apply suspect arrest procedure and they may fire at the car. But should there be any doubt or any chance that the incident in accidental soldiers must hold their fire. Once the vehicle no longer poses a threat, soldiers must hold their fire."

A senior GOC Central Command source explained that "So far the containment and restrain policy has proven itself as preventing incident from escalating. These orders all derive from battle ethics. We must exercise discretion and keep live fire as the last resort.

"We don't want to shoot indiscriminately and harm innocent people and if something like that happens we immediately offer assistance. Had we opened fire on every teenager that rioted during Operation Pillar of Defense it would have spilled into the West Bank ."

This is a middle ground response by the IDF.

I think the response should have been much stronger.

You throw stones at our soldiers, police and civilians, the response should be aimed fire at the rock throwers.

If they throw a Molotov cocktail, shoot to kill.

Gun fire against Jews must be dealt with an the terrorist killed.

These measures will bring calm to Judea and Samaria.

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