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State Department doubles down: ‘The thinking is that it was a terror attack’

Asked why Foggy Bottom called an attack under investigation in Israel a terrorist incident, a spokesman said: "The thinking is that it was a terror attack, and we are concerned about it, and that’s why we called it that."

The South entrance of the Harry S. Truman Federal Building which is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress
The South entrance of the Harry S. Truman Federal Building which is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress

In back-to-back social-media posts on Aug. 5, the U.S. State Department stated that it “strongly” condemned two attacks—one of which it blamed on “Israeli extremist settlers” and a second incident that “killed one and wounded two others.” It did not note that the latter attacker was a Palestinian terrorist, nor that the person killed was Israeli.

The first post from the department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs on X (formerly Twitter) condemned “strongly” an Aug. 4 “terror attack by Israeli extremist settlers that killed a 19-year old Palestinian.”

Less than a minute later, the bureau condemned “strongly” the Aug. 5 “terrorist attack in Tel Aviv that killed one and wounded two others, as well as other recent terrorist attacks against Israelis.”

Israel arrested two suspects in the Aug. 4 attack. One was hospitalized after sustaining a serious head injury at the hands of Arab attackers, which should give pause to those who think the Israelis didn’t act in self-defense, according to Israel Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council in Samaria.

During the State Department’s press briefing on Aug. 7, Matthew Miller, the department’s spokesman, was asked several times about Foggy Bottom’s designation of the attack as terrorism.

“We are greatly concerned about that attack. We are greatly concerned about all the attacks that we saw in Israel, in the Palestinian territories over the weekend. We strongly condemn those attacks,” Miller said. 

“I would note that the IDF spokesperson called the attack in Burka ‘nationalist terrorism’ just this morning,” he added.

“What was the thinking, what is the justification from the State Department to call it a terror attack?” a reporter followed up.

“The thinking is that it was a terror attack, and we are concerned about it, and that’s why we called it that,” Miller said.

Asked if Israel plans to “follow through with any actions,” Miller said, “We have made quite clear our concerns, but I would note that the government of Israel has made an arrest in this case and is seeking to hold the perpetrator accountable, and that’s an appropriate action.”

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