Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responded to American critics on Sunday, defending Israel's right to defend itself from attacks from Islamic terrorists in the Palestinian territories.
What is the background?
Members of the so-called "Squad" — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — amplified anti-Israel rhetoric last week as Israel continued its military campaign against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Ocasio-Cortez called Israel an "apartheid state," Omar accused Israel of committing acts of terrorism, while Tlaib called Netanyahu the "Apartheid-in-chief" and accused him of "committing war crimes."
Tlaib and Omar even said after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire that a ceasefire was not enough. Omar, instead, demanded "accountability for every war crime committed." Meanwhile, Tlaib said the U.S. should stop sending aid to Israel if the Jewish nation doesn't "uphold human rights," claiming the ceasefire "will not alone achieve freedom, justice, and equality for all who live under Israel's apartheid government."
What did Regev say?
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," the top Israeli diplomat dismissed criticism from Democrats, saying they don't represent the views of a majority of Americans.
Regev also reiterated that Hamas is not just an enemy of Israel's — but of the free world.
"I can tell you this morning before coming to this interview, I looked at the polling. And I saw that the overwhelming majority of the American people stand with Israel, support Israel, are favorable toward Israel," Regev said. "A majority of people who identify as Democrats also support Israel or favor Israel."
"People need to understand — Hamas is not just Israel's enemy. Hamas is the enemy of everyone who wants to seek peace and reconciliation in our part of the world. There were brutal jihadist terrorist group," Regev added. "No one should make excuses for them."
When pressed on the issue further — including on criticism from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who rebuked Israel for targeting a building that housed an Associated Press bureau and Hamas intelligence offices — Regev further explained why criticism of Israel is unwarranted.
In that building that the senator was concerned about, Hamas had its elite scientific research unit that was working on ways to try to counteract the guiding systems on our rockets. If they would have succeeded, not only couldn't we have shut down incoming rockets coming into Israel to kill our people, but we wouldn't have been able to be surgical in our strikes against Hamas' military machine, so that definitely was a legitimate military target.
That Hamas was using journalists as a human shield shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone but we notify the journalists in advance and I'm happy to tell you that there was not a single civilian casualty from that operation. In fact, from my point of view, it was an Israeli tactical success because we took out a legitimate Hamas target, a dangerous Hamas target and at the same time, not a single innocent civilian was killed. That's a good thing.