Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday condemned voices critical of the IDF following the death last week of a Border Police officer who was fatally shot by a Palestinian gunman during a riot along the Gaza border last month.
"I want to send out a clear message to servicemembers and all Israeli citizens: I fully support the IDF commanders and their soldiers," Bennett said at the opening of a Cabinet meeting, referring to the death of Border Police Staff Sergeant Barel Hadaria Shmueli.
"The IDF protects us and our role here in the government and the people of Israel is to back the IDF… There are those who try to use the IDF as a tool to advance cynical political goals. It hurts our resilience. This is inappropriate. Stop it."
Shmueli was wounded on August 21 when a Hamas militant in plainclothes shot him in the head with a pistol from point-blank range through a gap in the border wall during a riot.
The soldier was rushed to Soroka Medical Center in critical condition where had undergone several emergency surgeries but succumbed to his wounds nine days later.
He was laid to rest at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv last Monday as thousands of mourners turned up to pay their respects to the fallen soldier. He was 21.
An IDF investigation of the incident concluded that its tragic result was an outgrowth of a tactical error, namely commanders failing to order troops to fall back once rioters reached the border barrier.
The military denied allegations that overly restrictive rules of engagement prevented soldiers from defending themselves as rioters approached them.
Shmueli's family rejected the results of the IDF investigation, demanding an independent inquiry. His mother said she neither trusted the military nor the government while the father suggested Bennett should resign over the incident.
Last Tuesday, Likud MK Nir Barkat told Ynet he would pursue a state inquiry into the events that led to the border policeman's death, alleging negligence of military and political higher-ups.