After Gaza fighting, Russia says Lapid’s Ukraine war criticism is ‘double standard’

Russian embassy in Egypt cites April tweet in which now-PM called massacre of civilians in Bucha ‘a war crime,’ says he now shows ‘disregard and contempt for Palestinian lives’

Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Russia’s embassy in Egypt on Tuesday lashed out at Prime Minister Yair Lapid, slamming him for past criticism of an alleged Russian massacre in Ukraine in light of the past weekend’s fighting in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian terrorists.

In a statement posted on its social media accounts, the Russian mission posted a screenshot of a tweet that Lapid issued in April on the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, where Moscow’s forces have been accused of slaughtering hundreds of noncombatants.

“Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and I strongly condemn it,” the tweet from April said. Lapid, who was Israel’s top diplomat but not prime minister at the time, explicitly accused Russia of war crimes days later.

The tweet apparently rankled Russia, which has denied responsibility for the Bucha killings and claimed they were staged. Russian troops have also been accused of other atrocities since invading Ukraine on February 24.

In Tuesday’s statement, the Russian embassy in Cairo sought to contrast Lapid’s tweet from April with what it said were his calls to bomb the Gaza Strip, where Israel engaged in a three-day conflict with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group that ended Sunday night with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

“Is that not a double standard and disregard and contempt for Palestinian lives?” the embassy said.

The statement was not shared on the Russian embassy in Israel’s social media accounts.

During the weekend fighting, Russia’s foreign ministry had called for “maximum restraint” in Gaza. The ministry’s spokeswoman said Israel sparked the flare-up with strikes that took out a top PIJ commander, adding that the Palestinians responded with “massive and indiscriminate bombardments” toward Israeli territory.

Authorities in Hamas-run Gaza said 45 people were killed in the fighting, including 16 children, but it did not say how many of the total killed were affiliated with terror groups; Israel has blamed errant missile fire by Palestinian fighters for many of the deaths. At least 15 deaths were claimed as members by the PIJ, Hamas and another, smaller, terror group.

The statement from Russia’s embassy in Egypt came amid increasingly strained ties between Jerusalem and Moscow, including Russian authorities’ efforts to shutter the activities of the Jewish Agency in the country. Many see the tensions as a result of Israel’s increased support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

Bodies lie on a street in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on April 2, 2022. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP)

President Isaac Herzog called Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday as part of Israel’s ongoing efforts to prevent Moscow from closing down the operations of the agency.

Jerusalem has avoided providing direct military aid to Kyiv — including offensive arms or advanced defensive technology — since Russian troops invaded Ukraine, in an attempt to avoid sparking a crisis with Moscow.

But Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies, which are largely controlled by Moscow.

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