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Lapid rebuffs US pressure to change IDF rules of engagement after Abu Akleh killing

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a Navy officers graduation ceremony at the Haifa naval base, September 7, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a Navy officers graduation ceremony at the Haifa naval base, September 7, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid rebuffs American attempts to pressure Israel to reexamine its military’s rules of engagement after an IDF probe into the killing of Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh determined that errant fire from an Israeli soldier was likely responsible.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony of Navy officers at the Haifa naval base, Lapid says he hears “calls to prosecute IDF soldiers” following the death of Shireen Abu Akleh.

“I hear the calls to change our rules of engagement,” he says.

“Israel has expressed sorrow over her death. It was a tragedy that transpired in an incident in which there was heavy enemy fire. The IDF never intentionally shoots at innocent people. We are deeply committed to freedom of the press and to some of the most stringent rules of engagement in the world,” Lapid says.

“But to be clear, I will not allow an IDF soldier that was protecting himself from terrorist fire to be prosecuted just to receive applause from abroad,” Lapid continues.

“No one will dictate our rules of engagement to us, when we are the ones fighting for our lives. Our soldiers have the full backing of the government of Israel and the people of Israel,” he adds.

Yesterday, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said the US would “continue to press our Israeli partners to closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement and consider additional steps to mitigate the risk of civilian harm, protect journalists and prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

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