update deskIsrael at War

Herzog fires back at foreign reporters over Israel’s Gaza response

"If you have a missile in your goddamn kitchen and you want to shoot it at me, am I allowed to defend myself?"

President Isaac Herzog attends an event on Israel's 75th Independence Day, April 26, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
President Isaac Herzog attends an event on Israel's 75th Independence Day, April 26, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog held a contentious press briefing with foreign media at his official residence in Jerusalem on Thursday, reacting angrily to several questions about the military’s ongoing airstrikes in Gaza.

CNN‘s Becky Anderson started off by saying that “collective punishment of a civilian population amounts to a war crime under international law. The U.S. has warned Israel to uphold laws of war.”

Herzog replied: “I’m quite disappointed that is what you are asking instantaneously. Haven’t you seen? You’ve seen. You were all there. You’ve seen. So now we are starting with the rhetoric about war crimes? Really? Truly?

“I just said that Israel abides by international law, operates by international law. Every operation is secured and covered and reviewed legally. With all due respect, I truly believe that this comes totally out of context,” the president said.

Herzog also engaged in a testy exchange with journalist Matt Frei from Britain’s Channel 4. Herzog cut off Frei when he began insinuating that Herzog was holding Gazan civilians responsible for Hamas and thus considered them legitimate targets.

The president denied that he said that.

“With all due respect. If you have a missile in your goddamn kitchen and you want to shoot it at me, am I allowed to defend myself? Yes. That is the situation.”

Herzog continued: “These missiles are there. The button is pressed. The missile is launched. The missile comes out from the kitchen and onto my children.”

Frei then asked what the plan is for after the war.

“We have to make sure that Hamas is not able to repeat this again,” Herzog replied in reference to the cross-border mass infiltration on Oct. 7 that led to the murders of more than 1,300 Israelis with over 3,000 wounded and at least 100 kidnapped.

“I see nations fighting terror. Many decent nations. They fight terror. We are fighting terror. Humanity has to decide: Are we accommodating terror or are we fighting terror?” the president said.

“We are fighting terror and we saw the worst atrocity possible by a whole campaign of a movement which has major support from our neighbors. Many people believe in it,” he continued.

“I agree that there are many innocent Palestinians who don’t agree with this. But unfortunately, in their homes there are missiles shooting at us. At my children. At the entire nation of Israel,” the president said.

“We have to defend ourselves. We have the full right to do so and it’s about time that the world understands it. This is the tragedy of using terror and there is no mercy to terror,” Herzog said.

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