IDF chief slams critics, ‘Our soldiers’ hands are NOT tied’

In wake of soldier’s death, a group of IDF soldiers has enacted a new campaign to push the military to change the standard operating procedures. 

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi slammed those who are saying IDF soldiers are not free to properly defend themselves when they are under attack.

Israeli Border Police officer Barel Achiya Hadarya Shmueli died at the age of 21, nine days after a Hamas terrorist shot him during riots on the border of the Gaza Strip. Shmueli, a member of an elite undercover unit, was facing hundreds of rioters on August 21 when he was shot.

Since the time of his shooting, there has been a great deal of criticism from the Israeli public over how soldiers’ “hands are tied” by standing orders that limit their ability to respond to threats with deadly force. The post where the border police were stationed has come under especial scrutiny as the forces stationed there were forced to shelter inside and avoid confrontation with the rioters.

Since the death of Shmueli, a group of IDF soldiers has enacted a new campaign to push the military to change the standard operating procedures and grant them greater liberty in deciding for themselves if an incident warrants opening fire. The group calls itself simply “Untie Our Hands.”

Well, now the IDF Chief of Staff is returning fire, so to speak. He even went so far as to call the claim that Israeli soldiers have their hands tied in such circumstances a lie.

At a ceremony for the change in command of the Israeli Navy Thursday evening, Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi said that the IDF forces and commanders are “equipped with all the tools and new and clear opening fire instructions. Any other claim is devoid of any basis and is nothing but a complete lie. Every soldier who faces a threat and danger to life in routine or combat, may, should and is obliged to act sharply, strive for contact and thwart the threat.”

On the current investigation into what happened, General Kohavi said that the IDF will conduct a thorough examination that turns over every stone. “In many cases where incidents of violence developed along the border, many terrorists were hit by IDF soldiers,” said Kohavi.

“On the battlefield, there is fog, sudden occurrences, and friction, and no event can be expected, decisions are made quickly and in complex conditions, and mistakes cannot be avoided,” added Kohavi.

“IDF commanders do not send soldiers into battle – they go out with them and lead them – even in this event the brigade commander and commanders were led from the front and stayed with the soldiers in contact with the enemy.”