Lapid scolds Biden admin: ‘No one dictates Israel’s rules of engagement’

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

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday rebuffed America’s call for Israel to reexamine its rules of engagement after an IDF investigation into the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh found that the fatal shot likely came from Israeli troops.

“No one will dictate” to Israel how to act in times of war, the Israeli prime minister said.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel on Wednesday said the U.S. 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 stated.

Speaking at a Naval graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening, Lapid expressed sorrow over Abu Akleh’s death, calling it a “tragedy that occurred amid heavy enemy fire.”

“The IDF never intentionally shoots at innocent people. We are deeply committed to freedom of the press and to some of the most stringent rules of engagement in the world,” he said.

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He then issued a rare rebuke to the U.S. saying, “But 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.”

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

He went on to address Iran’s maritime presence in the region, including the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese coast and in the Red Sea, saying it presented some of the “worst threats” to Israel

“We will not accept this presence. We will not allow Iran and its proxies to become a major player in our maritime arena. They will try to push us to our limits, but that is where you come in, and they know that you are better than them,” he said.

Abu Akleh, who also has American citizenship, was shot and killed while on the scene of a gun battle between Islamic Jihad terrorists and IDF soldiers in the Palestinian Authority-administered city of Jenin.

In its report filed Monday, the IDF emphasized that the IDF was operating in Jenin on the day of Abu Akleh’s death in response to a wave of deadly terror attacks across Israel, noting that 11 of the recent attacks had been perpetrated by residents of Jenin.

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The report also highlighted the “wild and indiscriminate gunfire” by Islamic Jihad terrorists, adding that bombs were thrown at the IDF soldiers on the scene.

Based on interviews with soldiers, forensic tests, a chronological analysis of events minute-by-minute during the incident, an analysis of sound from the scene, and the relative positions of the terrorists and soldiers involved, investigators determined that “it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh.”

“However,” the army said in a statement Monday, “there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire in which life-threatening, widespread and indiscriminate shots were fired toward IDF soldiers.”

“It is also important to emphasize and clarify that throughout the entire incident, IDF gunfire was fired with the intent of neutralizing the terrorists who shot at IDF soldiers.”

Investigators added that it is plausible that Abu Akleh was hit by a shot fired by one of the Islamic Jihad terrorists.

“An additional possibility is that Ms. Abu Akleh was hit by bullets fired by armed Palestinian gunmen toward the direction of the area in which she was present,” the report said.

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