As the IDF police force struggled to cope with the deaths of at least 12 Palestinian civilians and an Israeli soldier in recent days, two top military officials, Lt.
Gen. Benny Gantz and Maj. Gen.-Colonel Benny Gant, were forced to defend the army’s use of excessive force.
According to the latest figures released by the IDF, the number of Palestinians killed by the army in the first seven days of this month was 2,742, and the total number of soldiers killed was 1,869.
The figures do not include the dead in other attacks or cases of civilian deaths, as the military would not provide the total.
The army has been under intense criticism in recent months over the disproportionate number of civilian casualties, and many have called for the resignation of the army chief of staff.
The number of Palestinian civilian casualties has increased dramatically since the end of the Gaza war, when a surge in Palestinian civilian deaths sparked international outrage.
During the conflict, the army had the authority to carry out attacks on military targets but was under strict orders not to do so, and its use of force against the Palestinian population was extremely rare.
At the beginning of March, the military said it had used 1,076 “possible attacks” against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including 1,000 against Israeli soldiers.
This was a significant increase from the number used in the previous seven days, which were mostly attacks against IDF forces and soldiers.
The IDF said it conducted 5,724 “targeted” attacks in the occupied territories during the first week of March.
It did not provide an exact figure, but it said that the number increased significantly from the previous 7 days, when the army was only using 1,722 “punitive” attacks.
The Palestinian medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement that it had reported a sharp increase in the number and severity of the attacks, which had increased from 1,200 attacks in March to 3,800 in March.
“The numbers are shocking, especially since it’s clear that the military was targeting civilians in order to provoke a backlash against the current conflict,” said Medecin Sans Frontiere spokeswoman, Nidal Abu Zayda.
She added that the escalation in the use of deadly force was “a new level of cruelty.”
In the first half of March the army conducted at least 2,638 attacks on Palestinian civilians, the vast majority of them attacks on army vehicles.
In the Westbank, which is in the same region as the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reported that the Palestinian civilian population had lost at least 3,700 lives since the beginning the conflict.
The total number was about 4,400, but the numbers could not be independently verified.
The military has denied the reports of attacks against Palestinian civilian targets and said it is only responding to the most urgent threat to the lives of soldiers and civilians.
But on March 14, the IDF announced that it was ending its use-of-force policy in the area and would allow the IDF to use force to protect civilians in times of need.
This included in the case of attacks on the IDF.
At a press conference in Jerusalem on Friday, the commander of the IDF’s Western Command, Major General Gadi Eisenkot, told reporters that the use-force policies of the past six months had been “very difficult” for soldiers, but that he was proud of the new approach.
“I am very proud that the IDF is using the new policy to deal with the threat of the terrorist organization Hamas,” EisenkOT said.
“And I am very, very proud of what we are doing in the Gaza and the West bank, as well as the West Jerusalem area, which we are trying to protect and we are going to continue to do.”
In his address to the army on March 16, Gantz said the army would not use force against civilians if there was a real and imminent threat to life.
“There are times when we will use force,” he said.
“And then we will make sure that it does not hurt the enemy.
But if it is in our own self-defense, we will take every necessary measure to prevent it from happening.”