Smotrich: I’m ‘soul-searching’ after Huwara comments

Smotrich writes on Facebook that he originally interpreted blowback to his comments as left-wing hysteria, but his opinion changed after learning “good, smart, and serious” people interpreted his remarks as an illegal military order.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich issued a lengthy apology and explanation for his comments last week that the town of Huwara should be “wiped out,” writing on Facebook that he did not understand that his comments would be interpreted as an illegal military order.

Last week, Israeli brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist as they drove through the town of Huwara. Hours after the deadly shooting, locals celebrated the killings by distributing sweets in the streets.

That evening, settlers rioted throughout the town, setting fire to cars and homes. One Palestinian man was killed during the unrest in unclear circumstances.

The day after the murders and riot, Smotrich said that he believed the town of Huwara should be “wiped out” and that the “State of Israel should do it.”

Smotrich’s comments sparked international condemnation, including from the U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who reportedly called the lawmaker a “fool” and suggested he should be “thrown from an airplane” while en route to an upcoming visit to Washington.

Smotrich walked back his remarks, saying that he had spoken in the heat of the moment. He was supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared to make a veiled jab at Nides by writing on Twitter that public figures, “including foreign diplomats, aren’t immune to making incendiary statements.”

But on Wednesday evening, Smotrich took his apology further, after learning that his comments suggesting the Israeli government “wipe out” Huwara could be seen by members of the military and reservists as an illegal order which contradicts the IDF code of ethics.

In the Facebook post, Smotrich admitted that he originally thought only “unhinged” people would understand his remarks as calling for the mass killing of Huwara residents.

Smotrich explained that his views on his own comments had changed, after hearing concerns from people he respects, rather than “left-wing elements” in Israeli media.

When he learned that “good, smart, serious and dedicated people who devote the best years of their lives to Israel’s security [in the IAF]” had interpreted his comment as calling for the deaths of Huwara locals, “I can no longer console myself by blaming others. I am forced to engage in some soul-searching.”

Smotrich added that he feels he has been unfairly demonized by the Israeli media.

“I know myself, the house I grew up in, the values I bring with me from that home, from that environment I grew up in, from the Torah I studied,” he wrote.

“I know how much light and goodness and justice and morality and love of man and people there is from all of this, and I don’t recognize the benighted figure that often stares back at me in the media mirror. I can blame it on the media until tomorrow, but it doesn’t change the result.”

The post Smotrich: I’m ‘soul-searching’ after Huwara comments appeared first on World Israel News.

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