Israeli Watchdog Warned That Army Was Unprepared for Big Gaza Protest

In an unpublished March 2017 report, Joseph Shapira said the IDF did not have enough riot-control equipment, whether for the Gaza, Syria or West Bank borders

Israeli soldiers deploy on the Israeli side of the northern Gaza border, April 1, 2018.
Amir Cohen / Reuters

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira warned a year ago that the Israeli army was not prepared for a civilian uprising in the Gaza Strip, according to a report that was not made public.

In the document handed to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other security officials in March 2017, Shapira said Israeli soldiers were not ready for a mass attempt by civilians to cross into Israel from Gaza, Syria or the West Bank. According to Shapira, the army did not have enough of the necessary riot-control equipment.

The State Comptroller’s Office decided in August 2016 to scrutinize the Israel Defense Forces’ preparedness for a large civil insurrection. The report, which included findings from a limited probe that year, focused on Gaza but noted that preparedness faults on the Gaza border were similar on the Syrian and West Bank borders.

The report urged defense officials to “address without delay the report’s findings to improve the response to the threat if it should become real.”

According to the IDF, 10 of the 15 people killed Friday at the border fence were terror activists, which the IDF said showed that the event was not a civil protest and soldiers had acted properly. Hamas says only five of the 15 people killed were affiliated with the group.

According to the IDF, as early as around 4 P.M. Friday at the border, hundreds of open-fire orders had been given to army sharpshooters, who hit Palestinians more than 90 percent of the time. Hundreds of Palestinians were treated at hospitals for bullet wounds to the legs.

The IDF concedes that incidents last week in which Gaza Palestinians crossed into Israel struck a weak point among Southern Command forces. The incidents raised tensions in the IDF, a development that may have ramped up the use of live fire that killed 15 Palestinians and wounded 758.