IDF chief backs troops despite more Palestinians shot, killed in W.Bank
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IDF chief backs troops despite more Palestinians shot, killed in W.Bank

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With tensions high in the West Bank, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi warned that there could have been more serious terror attacks and more Palestinian casualties.“This period could have ended with many more serious terror attacks as well as with many more casualties on the Palestinian side,” Kohavi said during a ceremony marking the change of command of the IDF’s Central Command. “Whoever was not there will never understand. Whoever was, like me, like many others will understand and appreciate it.”

The ceremony on Wednesday saw Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox take over from Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai who held the position for a year.

“We work together as one army, and we must act together according to the same moral standards, at all times, and in every operation, in training or war. You operate in a dense and rough, friction-saturated environment,” Kohavi said, adding that “it is often not clear who is an enemy and who is innocent.”

According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli security forces killed 20 Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2020 and injured another 2,000.

Over the past three months alone, 13 Palestinians have been shot to death in the West Bank by IDF troops, including children.

In July, 17-year-old Mohammed Tamimi was shot and killed by IDF troops in Nabi Saleh near Ramallah and a few days later, Shadi Shurafi, a plumber, was shot dead by soldiers near Beita.

Four Palestinians have been killed during protests in Beita near the illegal settlement of Evyatar since May including on Friday when 38-year-old Emad Dweikat was shot in the chest by IDF fire and killed near Beita.

Last week 11-year-old Mohammed al-Alaama was shot in the chest as he was sitting in his father’s car with two siblings after troops fired at the car that they thought was suspicious. After his funeral, clashes broke out, during which Israeli soldiers shot and killed 20-year-old Shawkat Awwad.

According to a report in Haaretz, Yadai and his senior staff have been criticized by politicians and security officials who are concerned that what is happening in the West Bank could lead to another escalation.

But during the speech on Wednesday, Kohavi applauded Yadai’s work saying that he had a “prudent and balanced policy” that combined restraint with a professional and value-based approach.

Nevertheless, according to the report, Kohavi met with senior officers in the Central Command on Sunday and asked them to take action to reduce the number of shootings against Palestinians.

During his speech, the chief of staff warned that while the West Bank is “a violent environment always full of dilemmas” and that while he understands that there could be errors in the discretion of troops, “we will not accept frivolity.”

“Our job is to deal with the dilemmas and combine the execution of the mission, the security of our forces and not harming innocents. Sometimes it’s very complex, I understand the complexity, I instruct you to deal with it, and I back you up,” Kohavi said.

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