IDF says that some Palestinians were “shot by mistake”, yet defends Israel’s killings

By Middle East Affairs

Commentators across the world noted that Hamas won a PR victory once images of bloodied, injured, and dying Palestinians turned Gaza’s relatively peaceful protests in a massacre on Monday.

Some Palestinians were hit by mistake, admitted a senior Israeli army spokesperson, who also revealed that Israel did not try to minimize Palestinian deaths during the Gaza protests. His real concern was that Hamas had won the PR victory.

International spokesman and head of social media for Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus made the comments during a briefing with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).

Conricus did not show any remorse, and instead adamantly defended Israel’s use of force in killing more than 116 Palestinian protestors since March in the Great Return marches.

The juxtaposition of imagery that showed Ivanka Trump drinking champagne at the U.S. opening of its new embassy in Jerusalem, its controversial new location, next to Palestinians getting tear gassed and shot, did much to appall the world.

IDF spokesperson, Conricus explained that this was because Israel had been unable to properly explain what had happened to the international media.

Palestinian demonstrators react to tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a protest demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

His remarks on the subject, “We haven’t been able to get that message out of how it is from our side, what we are defending – and the ‘winning picture’ overwhelmingly, by a knockout, unfortunately, have been the graphics from the Palestinian side. The amount of casualties has done us a tremendous disservice, unfortunately, and it has been very difficult to tell our story.”

After admitting that Israeli snipers didn’t always hit their intended targets, Conricus said that Hamas wanted people to die so there could be pictures to flood the international media.

“Hamas wanted the casualties. Hamas wanted people to die. Hamas wanted the pictures of the wounded and the overflowing hospitals … and they had no problems sending the human shields forward. That is the sad reality of what we have been facing,” Conricus said.

Leila al-Ghandour’s, an eight-month Palestinian infant was one of the more than 116 Palestinians killed from Israel’s “self-defense” tactics, the infant was initially tear-gassed inside a tent at the Gaza border on Monday, her lungs collapsed and she died Tuesday.

A relative mourns as she carries the body of eight-month-old Palestinian infant Laila al-Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas during a protest against U.S embassy move to Jerusalem at the Israel-Gaza border, during her funeral in Gaza City May 15, 2018. (REUTERS)

The IDF spokesperson also said that Israel’s soldiers are by no means “trigger-happy”, they are instead “combat soldiers, devoted, [who] understand what they are defending.”

Conricus also said that they “take orders from their superior officers” and are “executing their missions with discipline, with professionalism and using their weapons proportionately and as they are intended according to the rules of engagement.”

He explained further, “Now, have there been mistakes? Have there been bullets that missed their target and hit people that weren’t the target?” he persisted “Of course they have. But I can tell you that it is a chaotic environment on the border. There is tear gas. There is smoke from the tires. There is screaming. There is loudspeakers, there’s the sirens from the ambulances and, most importantly, there’s masses of rioters trying to tear down the fence, throwing rocks, throwing molotov cocktails, throwing grenades.”

Conricus said that the army did everything that it did to protect its kibbutzim and communities that are hundreds of meters away from the fence, should Palestinians have decided to break the fence and attack.

A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians have firmly maintained that their protests were peaceful in nature, and are intended to show their solitary as a cohesive group, who wishes for the return of their ancestral lands.

“When the dilemma came to, on one hand, defending the Israeli border and Israeli communities immediately behind the border, or allowing the rioters through and having a lower amount of Palestinian casualties, there’s no dilemma,” said the IDF spokesperson.

He pursued his point even further by stating that “There is no dilemma for soldiers and commanders in the IDF. On the other hand, we have tried to be as accurate, as deliberate and as specific as possible, using only sniper rifles … with standard NATO ammunition … so we have done a lot to try and minimize casualties. Have we been successful at it? Unfortunately, no, ” said Conricus.

He did mention that several IDF investigations had been opened into events which occurred over the last six weeks on the Gaza border.

All direct quotes are taken from a conversation between IDF spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus, and leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).


After Haaretz published quotes from Conricus interview with the JFNA, a spokesperson from his team wanted to offer a further explanation and a clarification of what the IDF spokesperson and head of social media meant –

“The things partially quoted were taken out of context, distort the broader context in which they were said and do not reflect the spirit of discourse nor the stance of the IDF. This was a conversation with leaders of Jewish organizations in the U.S., a part of the call to action conducted by IDF spokesperson with different elements around the world.”


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