Bennett defends IDF leaders after death of soldier, says ‘mistakes’ are ‘sometimes tragic’

“Where there is combat, there are also mistakes, and sometimes they are tragic,” Bennett said.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Since the recent shooting death of IDF soldier Barel Hadarya Shmueli by a Palestinian terrorist at the border with Gaza, some among the Israeli public, including Shmueli’s parents, have said that the Army’s rules of engagement stand in the way of the soldiers’ ability to protect themselves from attacks.

Shmueli, 21, was shot in the head at point-blank range during mass rioting along the Gaza border fence two weeks ago. He died nine days later.

Hundreds of IDF soldiers and several opposition members joined in condemnation of the IDF leadership. Likud MK Nir Barkat claimed that the prime minister’s image ahead of his trip to Washington took precedence over the soldiers’ safety.

In a letter slamming the accusations and defending the IDF, Kochavi said, “There is no position and no profession in which no mistakes are made, and especially in fighting against an enemy. It is our duty to interrogate sharply, to arrive at the truth and to learn lessons, but mistakes and judgment on the battlefield are not blamed or punished.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Saturday evening with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and senior members of the Southern Command. He expressed full support for the IDF commanders.

“I want you and all those who wear the uniform to know that my backing for the commanders of the IDF is full and absolute,” the prime minister stated.

“Where there is combat, there are also mistakes, and sometimes they are tragic.

“I very much appreciate the dedication of the commanders of the IDF and their immense personal sacrifice on behalf of the security of the state.”

Referring to Shmueli’s death, Bennett said, “The heartbreak of the entire people over the late Barel Hadaria Shmueli is intense. Barel fell in defense of his people and his country. He joins the best among us who, since the establishment of the state, have given their lives to uphold and safeguard it…

“Our responsibility is to provide answers, to listen and to embrace.”

However, “I expect the politicians and public figures not to touch the IDF and its commanders. We do not have another IDF.

“I ask you now, you who are on the front, to have fortitude and look to the challenges in the field. We rely on you and back you.”