ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Netanyahu hails Smotrich’s U-turn on Huwara, says Israeli policy is to not harm innocents

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s retraction of the remark that Israel should “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara, clarifying that Jerusalem’s policy is to avoid collective punishment.

“It is important that Finance Minister Smotrich clarified that he had no intention [of referring to] harming innocent people or collective punishment,” Netanyahu tweets. “I know his opinions and they were reflected in his clarification.

“None of us is free of mistakes, including foreign diplomats,” he adds, in a thinly veiled swipe at US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, following reports — vehemently denied to The Times of Israel by his spokesperson — that Nides had urged Smotrich to be booted from the plane when he heads to the US later this month.

Netanyahu adds that “Israel’s policy is clear: to fight terrorists and terror supporters, while avoiding harming innocents and collective punishment.”

He notes that the Palestinian Authority hasn’t yet condemned last week’s terror murder of Israeli brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv in a Palestinian shooting attack in Huwara.

“It is regrettable that some in the international community have been quick to condemn Israel but haven’t yet demanded this needed condemnation from the PA,” the premier concludes.

In a follow-up series of tweets in English, Netanyahu makes similar points but also calls Smotrich’s original remarks “inappropriate” and says it’s “important for all of us to work to tone down the rhetoric” and “lower the temperature.”

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