Ambassador Friedman Blasts Media Coverage of Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -
gaza border
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has castigated journalists for coverage of the Gaza border violence, which he charged was unfairly and unthinkingly critical of Israel.

“It would seem to me that in a journalistic environment where nine out of 10 articles that are written about the Gaza conflict are critical of Israel; you’d think that some journalists would take the time and go and meet with experts and try to understand what could have been done differently or better before they criticize. And I just haven’t seen it,” Friedman said at a media conference in Yerushalayim on Monday.

Friedman said he had consulted extensively with security experts in the U.S. and Israel who told him that tear gas, water cannons and other nonlethal means of crowd dispersal would not have been effective in quelling the riots in Gaza, and that it was necessary to resort to live ammunition.

“Maybe there are things they could have done better. I am sure there’s always things you could do better,” he allowed, adding: “With all the criticism Israel’s gotten, nobody has identified the less-lethal means by which Israel could have defended itself during the last four weeks. Nobody.”

“Who did this better in some other circumstances? Where is the other case where 40,000 people rush the border under the cover of burning tires, with Molotov cocktails, pistols, kites painted with swastikas, starting fires everywhere — fires that are still burning today?” Friedman said.

“Where did that happen in some other place, where the people rushing the border were committed to killing the citizens on the other side, and somebody did it better? Where is the manual that says, when this happens, you do this, this and this, and you can avoid the loss of human life or bodily injury?”

Without such comparative analysis, “all the reporting is completely superficial,” Friedman said.

gaza border
A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops, at the Israel-Gaza border last month. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

In a similar vein, Yoav Gallant, a member of Israel’s inner Security Cabinet, rejected the idea that the disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties was proof of IDF overreaction.

Gallant, a former IDF general who currently holds the housing portfolio in the Netanyahu government, urged the world not to “calculate who is right and who is wrong by the numbers of casualties,” according to an Associated Press report.

Over 115 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire since late March. By admission of Hamas and Palestinian Jihad, many were members of their terror organizations.

“In the Second World War, 7.5 million Germans were killed, and only 500,000 British. So, who was the aggressor, the Germans or the British?” he asked. “The issue is not the numbers. The issue is who is doing what.”

Gallant, said Israel’s policy has been to aim at demonstrators’ legs and try to minimize casualties. But he said non-lethal means, such as rubber-coated bullets, have proven ineffective at stopping crowds from trying to break through the border fence.

He acknowledged that “mistakes” happen due to the uneven terrain and crowded demonstrations. Unarmed journalists, paramedics, minors and two women have been among the dead. Protesters often set tires on fire to make it difficult for Israeli snipers.

On Monday, the Israeli military said troops killed an axe-wielding Palestinian attempting to cross into Israel from Gaza.

“It is very sad to say but the life of a Palestinian kid in Gaza is worthless to all the Palestinians and all the Arabs unless an Israeli soldier is killing him. This is so sad and so bad,” he said. “If they want to send us flowers we will send them candies. If they want to shell us we will defend our population.”