Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday addressed the Knesset plenum following the IDF’s elimination of senior Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata and the hundreds of rockets fired by terrorists from Gaza at Israel since, as Arab Members of Knesset (MKs) from the Joint List confronted him, calling him a “liar and inciter,” and left the plenum as he was speaking.
Netanyahu emphasized the IDF’s attempt to avoid harming civilians who were not involved in the fighting, saying that “despite repeated requests by security officials, I have not approved actions because of the chances of uninvolved citizens getting injured, and we want to minimize such harm.”
He accused the Arab MKs of encouraging terrorism, deliberately aimed at harming civilians. They confronted him and shouted various harsh accusations.
“You are lying and inciting against us,” they shouted at Netanyahu.
MK Ahmed Tibi was removed from the plenum by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Other Joint List members left the plenum as Netanyahu spoke.
In response to the harsh allegations made by the Joint List MKs, Netanyahu reiterated what he said was the inherent distinction between the Israeli security forces and the Gazan terrorists.
“I want to explain the difference, why the things they do are war crimes and why the IDF should not be accused of war crimes. At the root of combat laws, and I have learned them well, is a central and simple principle – on the one hand, there are an army and the other civilians. You can sometimes hurt uninvolved civilians, but you must not do so intentionally. You must target the militants, and if you have intentionally hurt uninvolved civilians, then you are committing a war crime. Every army accidentally harms innocent bystanders during combat, yet it is not considered a war crime. War crimes are what the criminals from Gaza do,” Netanyahu said.
Tibi claimed after the verbal clash that Netanyahu’s words have significantly harmed the Arab Israeli population.
“Netanyahu continues to lie and incite against us for a clear political purpose. His incitement against us recently led to more incitement to murder against us,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu spoke at a cabinet meeting, saying the Islamic Jihad has begun to understand that firing rockets at Israel was a mistake and is now paying the price for targeting civilians.
“They understand that we will continue to strike them without mercy. They understand that Israel is very strong and that our will is powerful. We are determined to fight to defend our country and if they think that these barrages or these strikes will weaken us or lessen our determination, they are mistaken. Therefore, they have but one choice – to stop these attacks or take more and more blows. The choice is theirs,” he said.