update deskIsrael at War

IDF accused of telling troops to spare Qatar-funded buildings

"The boys are forced to perform surgical operations instead of aggressively crushing [the enemy]," commandoes' parents say.

Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces' elite Egoz commando unit during a training exercise, July 9, 2015. Credit: IDF.
Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces' elite Egoz commando unit during a training exercise, July 9, 2015. Credit: IDF.

A group of parents with children serving in an elite Israel Defense Forces unit fighting Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip are saying that troops are being told to avoid damage to structures funded by Qatar, Channel 12 News reported on Sunday.

“The boys are forced to perform surgical operations instead of aggressively crushing [the enemy], at the expense of their safety,” 100 parents of Egoz commandos allege in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

The parents’ missive—titled “The Lives of Our Sons”—alleges that “more than once have we been told of incredibly tough situations in which it appeared that the lives of our soldier sons are not a top priority.”

For instance, buildings funded by the State of Qatar, a key financial backer of Hamas terrorism, are granted immunity from IDF operations, with the army going as far as officially instructing soldiers to minimize damage to these structures, they say, according to Channel 12.

“Can you vouch that our sons’ lives are more important to you than public relations against the United States and the world?” asks the letter.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir subsequently penned a letter to Netanyahu demanding that he “immediately summon the defense minister for an investigation and order him to direct the army immediately to allow our fighters to operate freely.

“Our best sons were not sent to die in battle so that Hamas supporters in Qatar wouldn’t have to be concerned for their assets, or so that Israel can receive a slightly less negative attitude from the international media, but to defeat Hamas and return the hostages,” Ben-Gvir wrote.

On Sunday, the IDF announced the death of a member of the Egoz unit. Sgt. 1st Class Sivan Wail, 20, from Ra’anana, was killed in action in Gaza.

Two months ago, local media reported that IDF troops in Gaza were put in mortal danger, including by Hamas snipers, during a mission to retrieve millions in currency intended for the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

According to an IDF statement cited by Maariv, Jerusalem instructed the military to enter the Bank of Palestine branch in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood in early February “to prevent the Hamas terror organization from seizing funds and using them for terrorist purposes.”

Some 200 million shekels ($55 million) were seized and loaded into armored vans as part of the operation, which sources said Jerusalem intended to transfer to Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

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