Israel rebuffs US request to change rules of engagement after Shireen Abu Akleh killing
Israel has refused to change its rules of engagement in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure to do so from the United States.
This came after an Israeli admission that there was a "high possibility" that one of its soldiers killed veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank city of Jenin last May.
Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, said on Tuesday that the Israeli army’s rules of engagement "will be determined by IDF commanders, independent of any pressure – internal or external".
He was responding to comments made by US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel on the same day, regarding the latest Israeli report into Shireen Abu Akleh’s death.
"We will continue to press Israel directly and closely at the senior-most levels to review its policies and practices on this to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again in the future," Patel said, referring to the Israeli rules of engagement.
However, Bennett said he gave his "full backing" to Israeli soldiers, according to Haaretz.
"I expect our friends in the international community not to preach morality to us, but to back us in our war on terror," the Israeli newspaper quoted Bennett as saying.
Bennett was Israel’s prime minister until July 2022 before resigning in favour of his coalition partner, Yair Lapid.
Shireen Abu Akleh, who covered Palestinian news for Al Jazeera for over 25 years, was killed by Israeli sniper fire in May while reporting on an Israeli raid on a Jenin refugee camp.
Abu Akleh was shot despite wearing a helmet and a flak jacket clearly identifying her as a member of the press.
Numerous investigations backed up eyewitness accounts confirmed this before Israel released its report on Monday saying there was a "high possibility" she was shot by one of its soldiers.
Both Abu Akleh’s family and Al Jazeera have condemned Israel’s report for not going far enough and refusing to explicitly state that an Israeli soldier committed a crime.
The US has been pressing Israel to change its rules of engagement for several weeks, in the wake of international outrage over Abu Akleh’s killing.
Israel has conducted deadly raids on West Bank cities on a daily basis for a number of months now, killing and injuring scores of Palestinians.