Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in a new video posted Thursday that he cares more about the Palestinian people than their own leaders do.
After two Palestinians who work for World Vision and the United Nations were charged by Israel this week of aiding the Islamist terror organization Hamas, Netanyahu took the opportunity to attack the group on social media.
“I’m going to say something now that some of you will not believe. But I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true,” Netanyahu said in the video, which was posted to Facebook and YouTube. “I, the prime minister of Israel, care more about Palestinians than their own leaders do. Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.”
In the two-minute clip, Netanyahu didn’t mention Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, elected head of the Palestinian government, or Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Instead he went after Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip and is at odds with Abbas’s Fatah party.
Due to the alleged siphoning of millions of dollars from World Vision and the UN Development Program, Netanyahu said, “innocent and impoverished Palestinians were denied vital aid supplied from nations around the world.”
“Hamas used this stolen money to build a war machine to murder Jews,” he said.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the past eight years, most recently in 2014. Over 2,000 Palestinians died — roughly half of whom Israel claims were combatants — and 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed in the 52-day war.
Israel on Tuesday charged a UN staffer with helping the Islamist movement, the second indictment involving aid workers in Gaza in a week. The Gaza head of US-based NGO World Vision was charged with passing millions of dollars of international aid money to Hamas. According to the Shin Bet security service, Muhammad Halabi diverted $7.2 million (6.5 million euros) each year since 2010 to Hamas and its military wing, though his charge sheet does not specify an amount.
“So I ask you — who cares more about Palestinians? Israel, that facilitates the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, every single day? Or Hamas, that robs Palestinian children of that very same aid?” he asked rhetorically. “Israel, that treats wounded Palestinians from Gaza in its hospitals? Or Hamas, that prevents injured Palestinians from getting help?
“Imagine, just imagine, where we might all be if Palestinian leaders cared as much about helping their own people as they did about hurting our people. The Palestinian people deserve better,” Netanyahu went on. “And today, I express my deepest sympathy with innocent Palestinians and those well-meaning nations who generously donated money to help them.”
For his coup de grace, Netanyahu said that Hamas’s “cynicism and cruelty” were hurting everyone and endangering peace.
Last week Hamas published a video online depicting the idyllic life for Gazans under its rule, showcasing newly built apartment blocks, vibrant night life and shimmering beaches. Critics denounced the clip as a Potemkin village representation of life under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade and an Islamic dictatorship that obfuscated the suffering and hardship of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.