In the Israeli Cabinet meeting that voted to release 104 Palestinian prisoners: Naftali Bennett says it's easier + more efficient to kill rather than capture "terrorists" …

The Israeli Cabinet meeting on Sunday which decided, after hours of debate, to free “104 prisoners” [Palestinians held in Israeli jails], was also the occasion of another significant happening.

 Yediot Ahronot publishes Naftali Bennett's reported remarks about killing terrorists
Yediot Ahronot publishes Naftali Bennett's reported remarks about killing terrorists

This image is posted here.

During the Cabinet meeting, Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett [Industry, Trade & Labor + Religious Affairs], who leads the third-largest party in the current government [The Jewish Home — he lives in the West Bank], is reported here to have said:

Mairav Zonstein had one of the first versions on +972 magazine. She posted an update which nevertheless continued to report the same remarks attributed to Bennett [and shown in the photo above]:

“The economy minister and Jewish Home party head was arguing with National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror about the prisoner release. According to the Hebrew-language report in Yedioth‘s print edition, Bennett ‘proposed a problematic and controversial way for Israel to avoid having to put [captured terror suspects] on trial’.
Bennett: ‘If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them’.

Amidror: ‘Listen, that’s not legal’.

Bennett: ‘I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that’.”

Some people have more problems with the “I’ve killed lots of Arabs – no problem” than with the “simply kill terrorists” part. Both are awful. And, worse, Bennett clearly means “Arabs” when he says “terrorists” in the lines cited above.

The update published by +972 Magazine has two parts:
(1) Yediot Ahronot reported that Bennett says his remarks “were taken out of context” [whatever that means] and

(2) letting us know that Bennett’s spokesperson finally answered Mairav’s calls. So, Mairav was able to provide this additional clarification [which clarifies little-to-nothing other than that neither Bennett nor his spokeswoman want to address this fully]:

“After repeated attempts at reaching Naftali Bennett’s spokesperson, she said that either the reporter from Yedioth Ahronoth received wrong information on exactly what Bennett said at the meeting, or he decided to interpret it this way. She insists that when Bennett referred to killing Arabs, it was in the context of ‘operations’ he participated in while serving in combat situations in the army, and that he was expressing that a more effective policy is to ‘wipe out terrorists’ rather then keeping them alive in prison and then releasing them”.

Is it better to have said what Bennet wanted to say is that “a more effective policy is to ‘wipe out terrorists’ rather then keeping them alive in prison and then releasing them”?’

Several Israeli “mainstream media” journalists Tweeted that they had “assumed” Bennett meant he had killed “lots of Arabs” — only in combat [i.e., legally, not criminally] in service with the IDF:

Amir Mizroch @Amirmizroch — @MikeOmerMan u should ask him but i’m assuming that when @naftalibennett [who served in elite commando units] says he’s killed Arabs, he means in combat

Michael Omer-Man ?@MikeOmerMan @Amirmizroch The quote is: “If you catch terrorists, you shld kill them.” That’s not combat. That’s a prisoner in custody … I wasn’t accusing @naftalibennett of murder. Only pointing out that he’s advocating it.


Then Omer-Man tried to get a comment directly from the source:

Michael Omer-Man ?@MikeOmerMan 29 Jul  — . @naftalibennett: Can you confirm saying in Sunday’s cabinet meeting that apprehended terrorists should be killed?

There was no apparent answer.  So he tried one of Bennett’s associates:

@MikeOmerMan 29 Jul –  .@TheJeremyMan: Can you confirm Bennet stmnt that apprehended terrorists shld be killed, from Sunday cabinet meeting as reported in yediot?


There was also this exchange:

Christa Case Bryant @christacbryant — @LahavHarkov Do you know if Bennett seriously said Sunday he’s ‘killed lots of Arabs, there’s no problem with that’? …

Lahav Harkov @LahavHarkov
@christacbryant No, because it was a closed meeting. Someone had 2 have leaked that, and I imagine it was someone with a motive.

Lahav Harkov @LahavHarkov
@christacbryant You should try 2 get confirmation from his ppl. Also, he was a combat soldier, fought in wars, not news that he killed ppl.


And later, this:

S. EL-Said {S2} @elsaidst 30 Jul
@LahavHarkov @Marianhouk @NatanSharansky …

Lahav Harkov @LahavHarkov 30 Jul
@elsaidst @Marianhouk @NatanSharansky Yeah, that story isn’t true. I already looked into it. But also, he fought in a war.

Marian Houk @Marianhouk 30 Jul
@LahavHarkov What did you find out about the reported Bennett remarks that’s not true? @elsaidst @NatanSharansky

Lahav Harkov @LahavHarkov 30 Jul
@Marianhouk @elsaidst @NatanSharansky They were misconstrued. Report came from a meeting closed to press, so quote was inaccurate.

Marian Houk @Marianhouk 30 Jul
@LahavHarkov Were u by any chance able to get an accurate version of what Bennett said? [Why didn’t he correct?] @elsaidst @natansharansky

Lahav Harkov @LahavHarkov 30 Jul
@Marianhouk @elsaidst @NatanSharansky He more explained. @ArielBenSolomon wrote about in in today’s paper.


Now, the story in the Jerusalem Post by Ariel Ben Solomon, that Lahav Harkov pointed us to, posted here, is quite interesting.  It recounts the same remarks cited by Mairav Zonstein [picked up from Yediot Ahronot]:

According to Yediot Aharonot, Bennett said, ‘If you catch terrorists, you simply have to kill them’.
National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror reportedly responded by saying that ‘this is not legal’.
Bennett then allegedly retorted, ‘I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that’.

Ariel Ben Solomon then contacted “Bennett’s office” and got the same kind of reply that Mairav Zonstein got:

“The Post contacted Bennett’s office and received a response that his comments were referring to the fact that there are two kinds of operations against terrorists, to apprehend them alive or to kill them. ‘If in the end, we are going to let captured terrorists go, then maybe we should take action aimed at killing them’, read the statement”.

As if it’s ok to say that urging the summary killing of terrorists is ok…

The JPosts Ben Solomon then asked for comment from someone who was not in the Cabinet meeting — and who is also not an Israeli journalist who “assumes” Bennett is talking about legal killing in combat — to put this all into perspective.

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiative, told the Jerusalem Post:

“…it is unacceptable that Bennett generalizes that all Arabs are terrorists and that ‘in no country would they allow a minister to speak about its citizens using this kind of language’.  In any other country, such a minister would be dismissed, he said.  Furthermore, Be’eri- Sulitzeanu finds it problematic that nobody is complaining about this … He called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to condemn Bennett’s remarks and say that it is unacceptable for a minister in the government to speak like this”.


As to the “clarification” issued by “Bennett’s office”, Be’eri-Sultizeanu said “even this response is problematic because it talks about illegally killing terrorists”.

Cabinet meetings are not aired live, their are closed. No journalists were present to record verbatim — though some journalists were almost “live-Tweeting” the hours of procedure on Sunday [see Haaretz Live Blog report, here — which failed to note Bennett’s sensational remarks. Haaretz correspondent Barak Ravid, who somehow live-Tweeted the highlights of the Cabinet discussion, did not mention Bennett’s remarks at all. In any case, there are plenty of sources for news leaks: there are 22 Cabinet ministers, 8 deputy ministers, as well as staff/aides and security present — plenty of sources for a well-connected journalist…

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