In an interview with Hanoch Daum, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the change in the rules of engagement that he implemented. According to Bennett, the new procedure resulted in the elimination of a large number of terrorists in the year and a half of his government's tenure.
"About half a year into my tenure, a series of attacks began in Beer Sheva, Bnei Brak, Elad, etc., which is when we initiated the "Breaking the Wave" operation together with Defense Minister Gantz and the Chief of Staff, head of the Shin Bet, and the Foreign Minister, and the idea was to [destroy] the terrorists' nests by holding nightly operations, and this worked out well,'' Bennett said, noting that the move led to the eradication of the spate of terrorist attacks at the time.
Daum asked Bennett, "Did you change anything to the rules of engagement?", and Bennett replied: "A day or two after special unit soldier Noam Raz was killed, I traveled to his military base, making sure there was no news coverage of my trip, and held discussions with soldiers at the unit.''
Bennett explained why he sometimes 'skips' the chain of command and engages with the soldiers instead of their commanders. "This is important from a leadership standpoint, but also in any organization; whether it's the education system, the army since the higher-ups pick and choose what they tell you since everyone wants to present the best image of themselves."
"I arrived at the base and when I got down to the details, I realized that the soldiers had been at the PA village where Raz was killed for quite some time before the firefight broke out and figured out that the 'open-fire' instructions needed to be changed. We made the change, which went under the radar, and significantly changed the rules of engagement. This resulted in the elimination of many terrorists."
Asked whether he was at liberty to divulge what these changes were, Bennett answered: "No, many times, rules of engagement depend on the situation. If we are in a routine raid, we want to keep it quiet in order not to stir up the situation, but when there is a change, the rules of engagement change accordingly. It's happened several times in the past like when Netanyahu opened up the Western Wall tunnels and the Arabs started rioting. There was a feeling at the time that we were working together with the PA and suddenly one of the PA personnel shot a soldier. You have to know how to adjust to these kinds of changes.''
Regarding actual changes to rules of engagement undertaken by his government, Bennett said that, "Thank G-d, we were very aggressive and to a large extent, this put a stop to the terrorist attacks at the time."
Bennett did not face extensive interviews by the local or foreign media at the completion of his term in office but a few days ago, held a comprehensive interview lasting five hours with Hanoch Daum. The conversation dealt with his time in office, from the moment the "Coalition of Change" was established until its last days.
During the interview, Bennett speaks openly and honestly, detailing his dramatic attempts to mediate between Putin and Zelenskyy, meetings with US President Biden (including Israel's dramatic refusal to concede to US demands on Iran), and about the question of whether there is a place in modern-day Israel for having a party like the United Arab List (Ra'am) serving in the governing coalition. The conversation also included stories from the former premier's personal and political life, including mistakes and lessons learned during his tenure.