'Left-wing UK anti-Semites will be happy with this article'

Israel lambasts The Guardian for accusing it of ‘killing with impunity’

UK paper’s blistering editorial is an exercise in ‘cheap moralizing,’ deliberately ignores Palestinian violence, Foreign Ministry says

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

The Guardian offices in London (CC-BY WordRidden, Flickr)
The Guardian offices in London (CC-BY WordRidden, Flickr)

Jerusalem on Wednesday accused The Guardian of “cheap moralizing” and of willfully distorting the facts, after the British newspaper accused Israel of lightheartedly killing Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border.

In a blistering editorial Tuesday, the London-based paper lamented that, in 2018, Israeli troops killed with impunity unarmed civilians who “posed no danger to anyone.”

Responding to the article, entitled “The Guardian view on Israel’s democracy: killing with impunity, lying without consequence?” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon did not mince words.

“The Guardian has decided to engage in an exercise of cheap moralizing, deliberately ignoring Palestinian terror and violence,” he told The Times of Israel.

“The Guardian knows very well that the Gaza Strip has been transformed by Hamas into a launchpad of rockets and violent attacks, endangering Israeli civilians on a daily basis, but prefers to ignore this reality, which would deprive it of the perverse pleasure of attacking Israel.”

In a thinly veiled swipe at Labour Party chairman Jeremy Corbyn, Nahshon added: “One can only assume that left-wing anti-Semites in the UK will be very happy with this editorial.”

Corbyn, who has long been harshly critical of Israel, and parts of Labour, have faced accusations of anti-Semitism.

The Guardian’s article appeared to accept the Palestinian version of the so-called “March of Return,” a series of protests at the Gaza encouraged by the Hamas terror organization, which rules the Strip and avowedly seeks to destroy Israel.

In its first sentence, for instance, the editorial claims that the Palestinians killed by Israel at the border were protesting “about their right to return to ancestral homes,” ignoring both that some of the demonstrations’ organizers made no secret of their desire to storm Israeli towns and kill civilians, and that the ostensible ‘right to return’ — demanded by the Palestinian leadership for some five million descendants of the original refugees — would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state. (Israel has argued that the remaining tens of thousands of refugees from what is today’s Israel and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state under a permanent peace accord, just as Israel absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from the Middle East in North Africa in the early years of the state.)

“Most of the dead were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, with little more than rocks in their hands and slogans on their lips,” the editorial stated.

“Yet Israel continued with an immoral and unlawful policy that sees soldiers of its military, which is under democratic civilian control, shoot, gas, shell and kill protesters, including those who pose no credible threat.”

The article went on to accuse Israel of “blatant disregard for Gazan lives,” arguing that there exists a “lack of accountability” that will eventually have negative implications for Israel itself.

“If one can kill with impunity, then can one lie without consequence?” the editorial’s author, who was not named, wrote.

Since late March 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have taken part in weekly Friday protests, which have included violent acts such as the lobbing of rocks and firebombs at Israeli security forces, in the border region between Israel and the coastal enclave.

Palestinians run, as teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops land near them during a demonstration near the Gaza Strip security fence, east of Gaza City on March 30, 2018. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

Earlier this month, a report by the dovish Israeli NGO B’Tselem said Israeli forces killed 190 Palestinian participants in the protests, most of whom “were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone.”

Since the commencement of the protests, Israeli forces have shot dead many Palestinians who approached the fence separating Israel and the Strip.

Israeli security officials have repeatedly called on Palestinians in Gaza to stay away from the border fence.

Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were its members, including 50 of what it said were 62 fatalities in two days of protests last May surrounding the US opening of its embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli security officials maintain that they only employ force when absolutely necessary and take exhaustive precautions and pains to prevent Palestinian civilian deaths. At times, however, they have admitted to making mistakes, resulting in Palestinian civilian deaths.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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