IDF soldiers in Samaria (file)
IDF soldiers in Samaria (file) Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

The IDF has changed its open-fire instructions for warriors serving in Judea and Samaria, making it even more difficult for them to fire at terrorists.

The new instructions determine that only in cases of real danger to life may the soldier fire at the terrorist's lower limbs.

This is a radical change in the longstanding open-fire instructions that call for a soldier to call out warnings to terrorists, then fire in the air several times. If a terrorist ignores these warnings, the soldier was instructed to fire at the terrorist's lower extremities.

The new instructions appear to mean that terrorists can escape the IDF without fear of being shot, after mounting attacks. They also appear to mean that soldiers may not even fire at suspicious approaching figures, even if they continue to approach after having been warned.

The IDF said that “in view of the situation assessment, a temporary order has been disseminated, clarifying the way the forces are to confront threats that do not constitute actual and immediate threat to life.”

In May, it was reported that IDF soldiers have been instructed by their commanders to avoid killing terrorists, even if they spot them as they are about to throw a firebomb or rock at a car. The only time soldiers may shoot to kill are when there is “real danger of loss of life” – but the parameters of this situation were not clearly defined.

The newspaper Makor Rishon cited S., a combat soldier who was stationed near Ramallah, as saying that rocks are not necessarily defined as life-threatening weapons in IDF orders. If the rocks are being thrown at Israeli cars on a main road, soldiers may fire at the legs of the terrorists, and only with the approval of a company commander, he said. In other cases, the company commander is only allowed to authorize firing rubber-coated bullets.

"They want us to hit a knee or two, to achieve deterrence,” S. summed up.