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Fighting criticism, IDF chief says country must support troops or won’t have any

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Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi issued a highly irregular public letter on Saturday, addressing ongoing criticism of the military and its top brass over the death of a Border Police sniper during a riot along the Gaza border last month.

“A society that does not back its soldiers and commanders, including when they make mistakes, will discover that it has nobody to fight for it,” Kohavi wrote in his missive, which was addressed to military commanders.

The army chief released the letter in response to mounting criticism against IDF commanders over the death of border guard Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was shot in the head at point-blank range by a Palestinian gunman on August 21 and succumbed to his wounds just over a week later.

Shmueli’s family — along with right-wing activists and opposition lawmakers — have accused the military of issuing overly restrictive rules of engagement that they claim prevented troops from keeping the rioters from the border fence.

The IDF has denied that the open-fire regulations were to blame — noting that Shmueli himself fired at the rioters when they rushed the border — and said that the issue was the way in which troops were deployed.

In his letter, Kohavi warned that the country must be prepared to lose soldiers in order to........

© The Times of Israel

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