Israeli minister claims Gaza massacre 'does not show the full story'
A senior Israeli cabinet minister on Monday rejected international criticism of Israel's open-fire policies in the besieged Gaza, saying the disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties does not reflect the true story, using Second World War tactics as a justification for Israel's brutality.
Speaking to foreign reporters, Yoav Gallant accused Gaza's Hamas rulers of cynically exploiting their own repressed population to score points against Israel and urged the world not to "calculate who is right and who is wrong by the numbers of the casualties".
Israel has come under heavy international criticism for shooting unarmed protesters, with rights groups accusing the military of acting illegally by using deadly force from a long distance when soldiers' lives are not immediately threatened, creating a massacre in the besieged enclave.
"In the Second World War, 7.5 million Germans were killed and only 500,000 British. So who was the aggressor, the Germans or the British?" he asked. "The issue is not the numbers. The issue is who is doing what."
Israel's violence has killed more than 123 Palestinians during protests along the border with Gaza since 30 March, with over 10,000 injured.
The protests - dubbed "Great Return March" - have centred on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, after they were expelled following the 1948 creation of Israel.
Gallant, a former Israeli general who once commanded the Gaza region and a current member of the inner Security Cabinet, claims Israel's policy has been to aim at demonstrators' legs and try to minimise casualties.
In reality, a shot to the leg can still be fatal. While there are no major arteries in the foot, the shot can be fatal if the victim does not get urgent medical attention, something which is becoming increasingly difficult for Gazans to obtain as a result of the deteriorating healthcare system and Israeli border blockade.
He said non-lethal means, such as rubber-coated bullets, have proven ineffective at stopping crowds from trying to break through the border fence.
Despite these claims, hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli fire, often times far from the border. Unarmed journalists, paramedics, minors and two women have been among the dead.
Gallant branded these ruthless murders as "mistakes" and blamed the uneven terrain and crowded protests.
The widespread criticism of Israel, coming from the likes of the UN and European Union, has drawn angry reactions from Israeli leaders and military commanders.
On Monday, the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, offered support to Israel, accusing the media of anti-Israel bias in its Gaza coverage.