Salah Bardawil, a senior Hamas official and spokesman for the terrorist group, said earlier today that 50 of the 62 people who have been killed at the Israel-Gaza border in recent days were Hamas members. No doubt of the “mostly peaceful” variety, as CNN likes to put it.
One of the Palestinians who stormed the border wall was captured yesterday by the IDF and talked, on camera, about how Hamas organizes “demonstrations” like the violent attacks that are now going on:
BREAKING: Hamas terrorist who reached the border fence between Gaza and Israel caught on camera explaining how Hamas forces civilians to participate in violence against Israel #HamasLied pic.twitter.com/gYF954ufWc
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 16, 2018
The Trump administration deserves credit for not falling for Hamas’s tired tactics. On Monday, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah conducted a press briefing in place of Sarah Sanders. The reporters were persistent in pushing an anti-Israel and anti-U.S. line, but Shah did very well:
Q Raj, at the same time there was a celebratory air in Jerusalem as the U.S. was moving its embassy, in the south of Israel, along the border with Gaza, there was a lot of violence that resulted in more than 41 people losing their lives. Is the President concerned about the demonstrations there and Israel’s response to people trying to climb over the fence?
MR. SHAH: Well, we’re aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza today. The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response. And as the Secretary of State said, Israel has the right to defend itself.
Q Hi, Raj. The death toll is over 50 in Gaza. Is the U.S. calling on Israel to use restraint in dealing with these protests?
MR. SHAH: Well, we believe that Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths; that their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths. And we want them to stop.
Q So there’s no burden on Israel to do something to, sort of, rein it in?
MR. SHAH: No, we think that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Hamas is the one that, frankly, bear responsibility for the dire situation right now in Gaza.
Q Lastly, Raj, how does this — the United States had been wanting to put out a peace plan. How does today’s situation hurt that?
MR. SHAH: I don’t think it hurts the peace plan. The peace plan will be introduced at the appropriate time. But what today is about is following through on what the President promised and believes. And it’s also a recognition of reality. I think we’ve, for decades, walked on eggshells, pretending that Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel when it obviously is. And this is just a recognition of reality.
Q If I can, very quickly, the French Foreign Minister, Raj, said about what’s taking place in Gaza — he urged Israeli authorities to exercise discretion and restraint. So to be clear, does the U.S. not agree with the French that Israeli authorities should exercise discretion and restraint?
MR. SHAH: We believe that Hamas is responsible for what’s going on.
Q So there’s no responsibility beyond that on the Israeli authorities? Kill at will?
MR. SHAH: What I’m saying is that we believe that Hamas, as an organization, is engaged in cynical action that’s leading to these deaths.
“Kill at will.” A classic of the White House briefing room.
Q Raj, on the issue of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, when was the last time the White House reached out to Palestinian leadership? And will — given the high numbers of casualties, Palestinians calling what has happened today a “massacre,” will the White House be reaching out?
MR. SHAH: Well, I don’t honestly have an answer for you on that. I’ll get back to you.
Q Okay. Can I just follow up then?
MR. SHAH: Sure.
Q Jared Kushner, in his speech, pointed a finger at the Palestinians, saying they were responsible for provoking violence. But given the fact that it’s only Palestinians who are being killed, should Israel not shoulder some of the blame?
This is known technically as a non sequitur.
MR. SHAH: Well, as I said earlier, we believe Hamas bears the responsibility. Look, this is a propaganda attempt. I mean, this is a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt. I think the Israeli government has spent weeks trying to handle this without violence, and we find it very unfortunate.
Q But people were throwing rocks 50 meters from the wall and were faced with sniper attack. I mean, is the White House in denial of the split-screen reality that’s occurring?
MR. SHAH: Again, we believe that Hamas is responsible for this.
My only additional comment is: thank goodness for the border wall.