A top Israeli minister and right-hand man to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday morning called the State Department “hostile” to Israel, “amateurish” and “foolish” over its assertion the day before that Israel had used “excessive” force against Palestinians.
“[T]o go astray after lies presented to the U.S. State Department is very, very strange, amateurish and even lower than that when we have full documentation of each of the incidents,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, referring to security camera footage that has been released of many of the Palestinian stabbing and car ramming attacks.
“I don’t know if to call those at the State Department and in the U.S. administration naive," Erdan said, blasting the State Department for "issuing foolish statements that appear to be directed at both sides - as if they’re equal - instead of focusing pressure on the murderous, inciting Palestinian Authority – who on the basis of its incitement, youths get up and carry out murderous acts.”
Erdan was responding to statements a day earlier from the State Department critical of Israel.
“We’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force. Obviously, we don’t like to see that,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said at his press briefing Wednesday.
“It’s definitely worrisome. I expect the spokesmen – not from the State Department which traditionally is hostile to Israel – I expect the American administration to have its say on this,” the Israeli minister said.
Following his interview, Erdan took to Twitter to further blast the State Department remarks as “unfounded and distorted.”
“The U.S. State Department spokesman’s statements are so unfounded and distorted that I expect President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to renounce them and clarify the U.S. position,” Erdan tweeted.
“Every sane person knows very well how the police would have acted in the U.S. if terrorists armed with axes and knives had come to kill civilians in New York and Washington,” he wrote, adding “There are limits to the U.S. State Department’s hypocrisy.”
Erdan explained to Army Radio that Israel “understands well the complexity of fighting terror” and pointed out that even the U.S. saw this firsthand in its recent bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan.
“I’m not comparing our actions to those of the U.S. military, but I saw the recent American stuttering when due to its military activity innocent civilians were wounded and killed at a hospital in Afghanistan,” Erdan said.
The Israeli minister emphasized that Israel is not targeting innocent civilians, rather perpetrators of violent attacks in Israeli cities.
“The Israel Police is not hurting any innocent person. Israeli police and Israeli citizens are taking defensive measures and life-saving measures in the framework of the law,” Erdan said.
Netanyahu also gave his full support to Israel’s security forces.
The Israeli security forces have my full backing to take decisive action to save lives and to protect themselves. pic.twitter.com/Ia57cgIUAg— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 14, 2015
The public security minister on Wednesday loosened Israeli gun licensing regulations to encourage eligible Israeli citizens to purchase guns, calling citizen gun owners a “force multiplier” in combating the recent wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks on buses and city streets.
A 70-year-old Israeli woman was moderately wounded in a stabbing attack at Jerusalem’s central bus station Wednesday night. The attacker was shot and killed by Israeli police patrolling the site.
This story has been updated to add the new tweets from Erdan.