Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday criticized Israeli-left wing activists who were seen in a video clip berating IDF soldiers on the Gaza border.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that the protesters’ words were an “outrageous absurdity,” and that the soldiers have the full backing of all cabinet ministers.
“They do not call Hamas ‘terrorists.’ Those who openly declare their plan to destroy the State of Israel, including those same activists — them they do not call ‘terrorists.’ Instead they are attacking the IDF soldiers who are working to prevent that annihilation,” he said.
“I think that every day, but especially today, we are all aware of the great contribution that the soldiers of the IDF make to the security and future of Israel,” said Netanyahu, hours before Israel was to usher in Holocaust Remembrance Day. “I am proud of our soldiers and together with all cabinet ministers we give them all the backing they need to do their holy work.”
In footage that emerged this week, activists could be heard telling the soldiers serving close to the Gaza Strip that they are “terrorists” who are participating in a “massacre of innocent civilians.”
The clip was first shared on Monday on the Facebook page of Ronnie Barkan, co-founder of the Boycott From Within movement, an Israeli group that supports boycott and divestment from the country.
In the video, several soldiers are seen informing the activists the area is a closed military zone, as the camerawoman keeps up a constant tirade against the soldiers, telling them they were brainwashed into joining a “terror army” by the education system.
Confronting Israeli terrorists during a solidarity action outside the #Gaza ghetto, April 6th, 2018. 11 Palestinians were executed by ITF soldiers that day, including 2 children. May they rest in peace.עימות עם טרוריסטים במהלך פעולת סולידריות מחוץ לגטו עזה, 6.4.18. אחד עשר פלסטינים הוצאו להורג ע"י חיילי צט"ל באותו יום, ובתוכם גם שני ילדים. יהי זיכרם ברוך.#أنا_راجع #مسيرة_العودة_الكبرى#GreatReturnMarch #MilitaryEmbargoNow==cc Ronnie Barkan Lacser Ady Adi Shosberger Christoph Bugel Vanessa Ahbecede Rachel Beitarie
Posted by Ronnie Barkan on Monday, 9 April 2018
The clip shared by Barkan begins by showing a female officer. The camerawoman, who is not identified, is heard saying “now we also have a female persecutor.”
“Aren’t you ashamed of massacring civilians?” she asks the soldier, who responds by asking that the camera be put down.
“No I can’t,” replies the activist. “You are a terrorist and I’ll take your picture. Are you proud of what you do? A soldier in the army of terror?”
The camera pans to show the border area, where smoke can be seen, then focuses on another soldier as he shows an activist paperwork about the closed military zone.
“Here are the terror soldiers telling us that we should stay away while they massacre civilians,” says the camerawoman. “Three pawns, terror soldiers.”
“The shots fired in the background are against Palestinian civilians by the fence in Gaza,” she continues, before filming each page of the closed military zone paperwork.
“Are Jews also not allowed here or only Arabs?” a male activist asks one of the soldiers, who tells him the area is closed off to everyone.
“But we are Jews. We are Jewish citizens, not some Palestinians,” the activist continues. “Okay, really, no discrimination at all?”
The camerawoman then asks one of the soldiers, “Are your parents happy when you come back home after killing civilians? You have massacred 21 innocent civilians in the terror organization that you’re active in.”
When one of the soldiers questions her use of the word “terrorist,” the camerawoman responds: “Yes, terrorist. The educational system taught you to be drafted at the age of 18, without thinking about it, to a terror army and to massacre innocent civilians in Gaza.”
Other than that short exchange, the IDF soldiers in the clip did not engage with the activists beyond informing them they were in a closed military zone and must immediately leave the area.
The video came on the heels of a clip that surfaced Monday showing what appeared to be IDF soldiers cheering as one of them, a sniper, shoots and fells a Palestinian who approached the Gaza security fence.
After investigating the sniper footage, the IDF said it was filmed on December 22 during a violent demonstration along the Gaza border, near the Israeli community of Kibbutz Kissufim. The army cleared the shooter of any wrongdoing but said it would reprimand the soldiers who produced and shared the video.
On Sunday, the IDF General Staff announced that it was launching an investigation into the military’s response to a series of violent protests along the Gaza border in recent days, which have so far resulted in the deaths of some 30 Palestinians.
Border incidents in the past two weeks have included two massive demonstrations in which tens of thousands of Palestinians took part.
The protests were part of a planned six-week “March of Return” that is due to end in mid-May with both “Nakba Day,” marking the displacement of Arabs after Israel’s creation, and the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a plan that has infuriated Palestinian leaders.
Palestinian activists have insisted the protests were civilian-led and nonviolent, while Israel has said they were used as cover for attempts at violence against Israeli troops and breaches of the border. The IDF says the marches are a new tactic by Hamas, which rules Gaza, to conduct terror operations in the confusion of the demonstrations.
The army said that it had spotted multiple attempts by terrorists to plant explosive devices along the Gaza border, a shooting attack on IDF troops by two well-armed Palestinian men dispatched by Hamas, and an attempted infiltration by a gunman wearing a suicide bomb vest. Hamas, a terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged several of its operatives were among the Palestinian dead. Hamas leaders have said the ultimate goal of the protests is to erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”