Israel Fires Back at White House Assertion That They Should Do More to 'Live Up to Their Standards'
Israel's ambassador to the United States fired back at the White House for saying the Jewish state needs to do more to "live up" to its wartime standards.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday said the "Israeli right to self-defense is something that the president doesn’t just respect, he supports."
"What we have also suggested is that Russia -- that the Israelis need to do more to live up to the standards that they have set for themselves to ensure the safety of innocent civilians on both sides of that border, including Palestinian people," Earnest said.
"So it is apparent from the reports that we have seen about the civilian deaths that there is more that the Israeli military can and should do to account for the safety of Palestinian civilians. It’s important to remember, though, that there is a distinction here, which is that Hamas is routinely targeting innocent civilians on the other side of the border. The Israeli military puts in place standards to try to protect Palestinian civilians -- innocent Palestinian civilians. That said, we believe that the Israeli military should do more to live up to those standards."
That was reiterated yesterday aboard Air Force One by White House spokesman Eric Schultz, who said, "We’ve been very clear that Israel needs to do more to live up to its own standards to limit the civilian casualties."
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer told MSNBC he didn't understand what standard the White House is talking about.
"No country in the world has set a higher standard than Israel. I would remind the White House spokesperson -- I didn't hear exactly what he said, but we have two-thirds of our country in bomb shelters," Dermer said. "And I would ask him to ask himself a question. If 200 million Americans were in bomb shelters, would the United States use less force than we're using? Would they take greater care with civilians than we're using? I think -- I think he knows the answer to that, and I think hundreds of millions of Americans know the answer to that."
"We have the highest standards of any military in the world at keeping the civilians of the other side out of harm's way. We drop leaflets, make phone calls, send text messages, tell people to evacuate areas. Right now our soldiers are fighting in areas that other countries faced with similar threats would never put their ground forces into. And we are taking great risk to our own soldiers."
Dermer stressed that they "deeply regret any civilian casualties."
"We don't target them. But Hamas embeds itself in these civilian areas, in mosques, in hospitals, in schools. They use all their people as human shields. That's the enemy that we're fighting," he said.
"...This is al-Qaeda. This is Israel's al-Qaeda. That's what Hamas is. They are committed to our destruction. They're a genocidal organization. They don't care about their own people. They were dancing on 9/11 -- dancing. Hamas was dancing on 9/11 with thousands of Americans dead."