A Hamas official called on the world to support EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton Tuesday, after she drew fire for a statement putting the shooting attack in Toulouse in the same boat as children killed in Gaza and elsewhere.
“Ashton’s declarations are worthy of appreciation and support due to Israel’s attempts to pressure her,” said a senior Hamas official, Izzat al-Rishq, on his Facebook page. He wrote that she deserves thanks for mentioning the children of Gaza despite the anger her comments evoked.
The European Union also released a corrected version of Ashton’s speech Tuesday, which mentions Sderot, in addition to Gaza, as places where children face terrible circumstances.
In her speech Monday, given in Brussels at an event organized by the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, Ashton is reported to have mentioned Sderot. Yet the original report of the speech did not mention the city, which has suffered thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza in the last decade.
The EU contends Ashton’s remarks were grossly distorted, explaining that Ashton was speaking generally about violence against children and was not drawing any parallels or comparisons.
“When we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances — the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy, and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives,” Ashton was reported to have said Monday.
Ashton’s statements drew ire from Israeli politicians Tuesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “outraged” that Ashton compared “the targeted massacre of children” with the IDF’s precise defensive actions against terrorists in Gaza who use “children as human shields.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak added that the IDF operates with “maximum caution in Gaza” in order to prevent harm to innocent civilians and children.