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Gantz defends IDF, government amid backlash over border guard’s death

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Border Police officer Barel Shmueli who was critically wounded in a shooting on the Gaza border, on August 21, 2021. He died of his injuries on August 30. (Border Police)
Border Police officer Barel Shmueli who was critically wounded in a shooting on the Gaza border, on August 21, 2021. He died of his injuries on August 30. (Border Police)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz defends the military top brass and the government against ongoing allegations that they caused the death of a border guard last month by issuing overly restrictive open-fire regulations for the troops responding to a riot 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 says.

During the demonstration along the border, dozens of rioters rushed the security barrier, including a gunman who ran up to a hole in the concrete wall that was used as a sniper position and fired a pistol at the border guard on the other side, hitting him in the head and fatally wounding him. The rules of engagement, which required troops to receive permission from higher-ranking officers before they could open fire, were blamed for allowing the rioters to get so close to the border barrier. The military has promised to investigate the incident.

“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 says.

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