Israeli minister Ben-Gvir says army can shoot women, children in Gaza
“We cannot have women and children getting close to the border... anyone who gets near must get a bullet [in the head],” Ben-Gvir said during a debate with Israeli military chief Herzi Halevi on the army’s “open-fire” rules at the cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Ben-Gvir, who heads the extreme right Jewish Power party, told Halevi that Israel’s rules of engagement in Gaza were too lenient and ought to be broadened out to encompass civilians.
“You know how our enemies operate... they will try us,” Ben-Gvir said according to The Jerusalem Post.
“They will send women and children as undercover terrorists. If we continue like this, we will reach another October 7.”
Halevi did not argue with Ben-Gvir over the ethics of shooting Palestinian women and children, but rather claimed that it might lead to more “friendly fire” incidents.
In December of last year, Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza City, despite them being clearly unarmed, waving a white flag and screaming for help in Hebrew.
This incident raised further questions about the conduct of Israeli ground troops involved in the invasion of the Gaza Strip, with critics arguing that Israel’s terms of engagement already encompass ground attacks on civilians.
Palestinians have reported and recorded numerous instances of Israeli soldiers opening fire on innocent civilians. Footage from Gaza has shown unarmed Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli forces.
Reports have also emerged of large-scale executions of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in Gaza, according to extensive reports by Al Jazeera and human rights groups.
In its landmark ruling last month, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) not only ruled that Israel was plausibly committing genocide in Gaza, including the targeting of civilians by military means, but it also ruled that Tel Aviv must prosecute officials who make genocidal statements against Palestinians in the besieged enclave. Ben-Gvir has repeatedly called for the ethnic cleansing of the civilian population Gaza.
However, after details of the cabinet meeting were leaked to the media, Ben-Gvir was typically bullish in defending his comments.
The minister took to the social media platform X to stress that he “does not stutter and does not intend to apologize”.
“All those who endanger our citizens by getting near the border must be shot. This is what they do in any normal state,” he added.
Israel’s air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip has so far killed at least 28,473 Palestinians, according health authorities in Gaza. The vast majority of those killed are civilians, including more than 12,000 children.