Israeli soldiers are acting with outrage tonight after news that the military has temporarily revised the rules of engagement for combat soldiers in the occupied West Bank, centering on efforts to prevent gunfire except in genuine cases of threats to the lives of soldiers.
The ban, for instance, explicitly forbids shooting fleeing rock-throwers in the back, and likewise warns that if a car runs through a checkpoint without trying to run people over, the military isn’t to just fire willy-nilly into the sides of it. This is a huge change for the Israeli military’s standard operations in the West Bank.
Israeli soldiers termed the new rules “bizarre,” saying they are all in “total shock” at the sudden efforts to tamp down shooting at Palestinians, and with several saying they believe that the reduction in shootings will lead to more terror attacks across Israel.
The Israeli military has downplayed the change, saying the new specific rules were only meant to clarify what was supposed to be policy all along, that troops not fire unless there is a “clear and immediate danger.” Given how broadly soldiers have previously interpreted their freedom to fire on Palestinians, and done so with impunity, it seems the clarification was a long-time coming.