As it continued a nearly daily series of operations against militants in the region that have resulted in the deaths of scores of Palestinians, Israel made it clear on Wednesday that it was opposed to US proposals to reconsider the rules of engagement in the occupied West Bank.
While speaking at a military ceremony in Haifa, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid echoed similar comments made by Defense Minister Benny Gantz by saying, “No one will dictate our rules of engagement to us, when we are the ones fighting for our lives.”
As a result of the military’s conclusion that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was probably shot accidentally by an Israeli soldier, the State Department announced on Tuesday that Washington will call on Israel to reconsider its rules of engagement procedures.
When Abu Akleh was slain on May 11 while covering an Israeli operation in the city of Jenin, a bastion for Palestinian militants, the Palestinians charged that Israel had purposefully targeted him. Israeli denial of this.
“Israel has expressed sorrow over the journalist’s death. It was a tragedy that transpired in an incident in which there was heavy enemy fire … The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) never intentionally shoots at innocent people,” Lapid said.
Since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israeli cities’ streets, Israel has increased its incursions into the West Bank. Israeli soldiers on Wednesday murdered a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member during the most recent of these raids.
The army made arrests and searched places as part of nearly nightly security sweeps, including the village of Tubas, where it claimed an improvised explosive device was hurled and soldiers were shot at before returning fire.
Younis Tayeh, who was killed, was identified as a member of Islamic Jihad and was alleged to have perished in combat. Tayeh’s relatives denied that he had participated and claimed that he had been shot while crossing the street.
The military reported that in a different incident, a Palestinian attacked a soldier with a hammer. The soldier “responded with live fire and neutralized the suspect.”
2014 saw the failure of US-mediated peace negotiations to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), which has limited self-rule and security authority in the West Bank and is supported by the US, has lost some of its credibility as a result of the diplomatic stalemate.
Gantz said the PA should do more to rein in militants. “The spread of weapons and lack of governance are harming both the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority itself,” Gantz said.
Wasel Abu Youssef of the Palestine Liberation Organization called Gantz’s comments “desperate.” “Israel alone bears the responsibility for the daily killings of our people,” he said.