(August 18, 2022 / JNS) Biden administration officials have asked Israel to review its military’s rules of engagement for operations in Judea and Samaria and for Jerusalem to publish the conclusions of its report into the killing of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11.
American and Israeli officials told Axios that the requests were made in a recent call between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Blinken made the request after recently meeting with Abu Akleh’s family members in Washington, and after the release of the America’s own investigation into Abu Akleh’s death.
Abu Akleh was killed in crossfire between IDF soldiers and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in the city of Jenin.
Rules of engagement are guidelines used by the military to determine when the use of live fire is justified during operations.
An investigation by the U.S. Security Coordinator released on July 4 could not definitively determine the origin of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh as it was too damaged. But after reviewing the investigations conducted by the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, the USSC concluded that “gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible for the death … .”
The USSC’s statement was heavily criticized by Israeli officials, who argued that Ramallah’s investigation did not delve into PIJ’s involvement in the firefight because the P.A. had lost control of Jenin.
Blinken is reported to have told Gantz that he believes the rules of engagement were not followed during the operation, with Gantz responding that the situation on the ground is not always black and white during military operations.
A senior Israeli official told Axios that there has not been a formal request from the United States to change the IDF’s rules of engagement and that such an overture would anyways be denied.
“Israel is a sovereign country and the rules of engagement save lives,” the official told Axios.
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