Israel’s US Ambassador Slams Sanders for ‘Disproportionate Force’ Comment, Inflated Gaza Casualties
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer on Sunday night joined the chorus of those rebuking Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders for inflating the number of Palestinian civilians killed during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
“While those numbers were partially corrected, the claim that Israel acted with disproportionate force was not,” Dermer said. “That claim is just as libelous as the claim that Israel killed 10,000 innocent civilians. Israel did not act with disproportionate force in our war in Gaza…”
Dermer made the remarks during a keynote address at the annual gala of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), held at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
Dermer also said that while Israel faced a barrage of Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza prior to and during the war, it “went to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way.”
“Israel has upheld values in a way no country has when faced with similar threats,” Dermer told the audience. “Instead of defaming Israel, the international community, and certainly anything who hopes to lead it, should be praising Israel. [And] in light of the comments said this week, and in memory of the 67 soldiers who paid the ultimate price in that war precisely because our army did not act in the way we are accused of acting, let me say it again, the IDF deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for how it acted during the war in Gaza.”
Dermer was addressing comments Sanders made during a meeting with the New York Daily News‘ editorial board last Monday. During the interview, Sanders accused Israel of using “disproportionate” force in the war between Israel and Gaza’s terrorist rulers Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of “over 10,000 innocent people.”
“Anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?” Sanders said.
According to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Gaza civilian death toll in the 2014 war was 1,423, while Gaza’s terrorist rulers Hamas cite a similar number of 1,462.
The Israeli government, in its own report, said that 2,125 Palestinians were killed in the war and at least 44 percent of the fatalities were confirmed to have been armed members of Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
A number of major Jewish organizations responded sharply to Sanders for citing the exaggerated figures, and Israeli Immigrant Absorption and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin described Sanders’ numbers as “loony.”
As reported by The Algemeiner, the Sanders campaign swiftly responded with a statement of its own, asserting that the outcry was a product of “distorting the truth,” and that Sanders — unsure of the actual number — had only suggested the figure of 10,000 innocents dead, and he subsequently “immediately accepted” a correction from the Daily News editor.
Speaking on MSNBC on Friday morning, however, Sanders again cited an incorrect figure — though far less inflated this time, The Times of Israel reported. Acknowledging that he hadn’t known “the exact number” when he spoke to the Daily News, Sanders said that, “according to the United Nations, over 2,000 civilians were killed” in the war.
Then, on Sunday in an interview with CNN‘s Jake Tapper, Sanders got the statistics wrong a third time. “The number was I think 2100,” he said.