The IDF fired back at Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday, denying that it had made any apology for the deaths of a number of terrorists in Monday’s tunnel blast.
Bennett construed as an apology a statement of the IDF spokesperson following the incident, which said the army had not intended to kill anyone, only to destroy a tunnel from Gaza into Israel which posed a security threat.
The spokesperson said that most of the dead in the incident were from the rescue force sent in by the terrorists themselves, who were killed do to “side effects that occur in such situations in a tunnel, such as falling debris, smoke and dust.”
However, there was no explicit mention of apology or regret.
An IDF spokesperson rejected the allegation of an apology on Tuesday, asserting that the military did not make “even one apology” about the operation. The official explained that the statement in question was made in response to a question about the goal of the operation, which was not assassination but to eliminate a tunnel — “and that was done extremely well,” he said.
“The comments were responsible,” the spokesperson added.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took the offensive, charging Bennett with making irresponsible comments.
“A briefing by the IDF spokesperson cannot be used for a blatant assault on the IDF and its commanders. Comments like this seriously damage the security of Israel and the IDF,” Liberman said.
When the matter came up later in the day on Tuesday, after hearing Liberman’s rebuke, Bennett would not retract.