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IDF chief defends army’s rules of engagement after Border Police sniper’s death

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

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a ceremony in Jerusalem, on August 11, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a ceremony in Jerusalem, on August 11, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF chief Aviv Kohavi defends the military against ongoing criticism of its top brass over the death of a Border Police sniper who was shot dead by a Palestinian gunman at point-blank range last month during a riot along the Gaza border.

After the border guard, Barel Shmueli, was shot and fatally wounded during the riot, allegations emerged that the reason why the shooter was able to get so close to the border barrier was due to overly restrictive rules of engagement, which prevented troops from opening fire at the rioters as they approached the border.

Kohavi dismisses the allegations that the rules of engagement or a lack of equipment were to blame for Shmueli’s death.

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)

“The soldiers and commanders are equipped with all of the tools and with open-fire rules that are clear. Claims to the contrary are baseless and are nothing but a total lie,” Kohavi says. “Any soldier that feels threatened and at risk, in war or peacetime, is allowed to, needs to and must take action and remove the threat.”

The IDF chief says that the military is still conducting its investigation into the incident.

“We are completing a thorough investigation that will leave no stone unturned. This is an investigation that is based solely on professional and ethical standards,” he says.

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