‘We sanctify life, they value death’: Israel defence min on Palestine
Israel’s defence minister has accused Palestinians of not mourning their dead as much as the Jews, wading into a debate on Palestinian grief amid a wave of violence that has left more than 200 dead on both sides.world Updated: Feb 24, 2016 18:46 IST
Israel’s defence minister has accused Palestinians of not mourning their dead as much as the Jews, wading into a debate on Palestinian grief amid a wave of violence that has left more than 200 dead on both sides.
The controversy erupted two weeks ago when a presenter on Israeli army radio compared the grief of Israeli parents of soldiers killed in action to that of Palestinians whose loved ones died while seeking to kill Israelis.
In a speech on Tuesday night to the Israeli relatives of fallen soldiers, defence minister Moshe Yaalon said there was a “difference between us and our neighbours”.
“There is no place for any comparison between bereavement on our side and on theirs,” a statement from his office quoted him as saying.
“We are a society that sanctifies life and unfortunately many of them sanctify death. A society that chooses death achieves nothing, has no future.”
His remarks followed similar claims from Israel’s police chief, who spoke to an organisation of bereaved Israeli families on Monday.
“One cannot ignore the fact that the mourning we share with you is starkly different from the kind of bereavement we find that is increasingly prevalent among our enemies,” he reportedly said.
“They ascribe no value to life.”
Two weeks ago veteran Israeli army radio broadcaster Razi Barkai interviewed Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who has refused to allow the bodies of some Palestinian attackers to be released to their families for burial saying he wants to avoid funerals becoming political rallies.
Barkai suggested that this caused the Palestinian families no less distress than that suffered by families of Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and whose remains are still held by the strip’s Hamas rulers.
“Bereavement is bereavement both here and on the other side of the fence,” Barkai was quoted as saying in later comments. “The feelings of bereaved families - both here and there - are immeasurable.”
That interview came in the wake of a visit in early February by three Arab Israeli lawmakers to relatives of killed Palestinian assailants who were seeking to retrieve their bodies.
The visit prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lend his support to a draft bill which would suspend lawmakers for “inappropriate conduct”.
A wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming assaults that erupted in October has claimed the lives of 27 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean.
The violence has also seen 176 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.