Israeli snipers and shifting rules of engagement

Israeli snipers and shifting rules of engagement

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We had been invited into the closed military zone on Israel’s border with Gaza border.

After fierce criticism of its gunning down of Palestinian protesters this week, Israel’s military wanted to tell its side of the story.

From our military jeep we could see earthworks thrown up by Israeli sappers to protect their forces.

Atop them, covered by canvas, sniper nests are dug into the sand.

We were taken to the site of an ambush.

Six Hamas fighters, we were told, fired on an Israeli jeep through the fence, under cover of the protests.

Israelis say 16 militants were killed in two such attacks.

But critics want an explanation of rules of engagement that remain secret but appear to have been relaxed.

Britain and other allies of Israel are alarmed by the staggering casualty figures.

The shift in rules seems to have allowed Israeli sharpshooters to kill and wound unarmed protesters.

Israel has said it has the right to defend its border, and its commanders insist their methods are legally justified.

The Israelis say they can shoot anyone approaching the border fence during the protests, having warned them with leaflets.

But some military veterans are appalled.

Nadav Weiman was in an Israeli military sniper unit 10 years ago.

He now works for the NGO Breaking the Silence.

He said: “We see IDF snipers shooting at unarmed Palestinians when they are 300m away from the fence.

“That’s a huge change from when I was a sniper and I think that this is a red line that I personally thought we were never going to cross.”

Back at the border in one of the Palestinian protest camps, tents were being taken down.

The demonstrations appear to be winding down for now.

(c) Sky News 2018: Israeli snipers and shifting rules of engagement