After Israeli backlash, U.S. softens stance on ‘rules of engagement’ rebuke

After Israeli Prime Minister pushes back, State Department eases pressure on Israel to modify IDF’s rules of engagement following death of Arab-American journalist.

By World Israel News Staff

The U.S. State Department downplayed differences with Jerusalem over the IDF’s rules of engagement, after Israel pushed back against pressure to limit Israeli soldiers’ use of force in combat situations.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Israeli military should determine its own rules of engagement.

“No one knows the IDF’s processes and procedures better than the IDF, and so it is not on us or any other country or entity to say precisely what the IDF or any military or security organization around the world should do.”

When pressed by reporters, Price said the U.S. has called for “accountability” following the May 11th death of Arab-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

“We’ve noted and underscored the imperative of accountability, but we haven’t been prescriptive,” he said, while avoiding any direct calls on Israel to modify its rules of engagement.

“It is incumbent on us to continue to underscore the importance that we place on mitigating civilian harm and taking steps, including policies and procedures revised policies and procedures that would mitigate the possibility of civilian harm.”

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The Biden administration is “continuing to discuss this with our Israeli partners,” Price said.

Price’s comments mark a sharp deviation from previous Biden administration statements on the Israeli military’s use of force regulations, after an IDF investigation into the death of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh found that the fatal shot likely came from Israeli troops.

Following Abu Akleh’s death in Jenin during a gun battle between Islamic Jihad terrorists and Israeli soldiers, the U.S. repeatedly urged Israel to alter the IDF’s rules of engagement.

Last week, State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said the Biden administration 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.”

“That is a key goal for us,” Patel added.

The pressure provoked a strong backlash from Jerusalem, however, with Prime Minister Yair Lapid issuing a rare rebuke of the U.S.

“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. No one will dictate our rules of engagement to us when we are the ones fighting for our lives.”

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“Our soldiers have the full backing of the government of Israel and the people of Israel,” Lapid continued.