The IDF will not stop its campaign against Palestinian terrorists just because of false anti-Israel propaganda, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday.
“I say this clearly: The Government of Israel is placing no restrictions on the fight against terrorism, and we will not slacken even in the face of the mendacious propaganda that is being leveled at Israel,” he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “It is Palestinian terrorists who have murdered 19 of our sons and daughters with inconceivable brutality – with axes, knives and live fire.”
Bennett did not mention the death of Palestinian-American Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist who was killed while covering an IDF raid in Jenin last week to root out Palestinians connected to the spate of terrorist attacks against Israel.
It remains unclear if she was shot by a soldier or a Palestinian gunman. Palestinians have said she was killed by a soldier and that they will turn to the International Criminal Court, which has not released the final results of its investigation.
Israel has been harshly condemned for police actions during Abu Akleh’s Jerusalem funeral on Friday. In videos that were widely distributed, police officers are seen beating and pushing at her pallbearers with such force that they almost dropped her casket.
Police have opened a probe into the violence, which was harshly condemned by the international community, including the United States.
There have been calls for Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev to resign as a result of the incident.
The violence heightened tensions with the US over issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the advancement of settlement plans.
Despite the tensions, Defense Minister Benny Gantz is proceeding as scheduled with his trip to Washington and New York later this week, where he is expected to meet with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
At the cabinet meeting, Bennett spoke about the High Court of Justice hearing on Monday regarding the banning of the controversial documentary film Jenin, Jenin, which explores Israel’s military operation in the West Bank Palestinian city 20 years ago.
During the height of the Second Intifada in 2002, the IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield, which targeted terrorist cells in Palestinian cities.
The film focuses on the Palestinian perspective of the raid on a refugee camp in Jenin in which 52 Palestinians and 23 soldiers were killed.
“I back the IDF soldiers who fought in Jenin then against the slander that will be discussed tomorrow [at the High Court of Justice], and [I also back] today’s soldiers against similar libels,” Bennett said. “Our forces will continue to take determined action against terrorism.”
He eulogized Counterterrorism Unit Sgt.-Maj. Noam Raz, who was killed in a military operation in the Jenin area over the weekend and buried on Sunday at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem.
“Noam served in the Counterterrorism Unit for 23 years, during which he participated in many operations to defend the security of the citizens of Israel,” Bennett said.
“Noam loved Israel and was a hero of Israel,” he said. “Only a few weeks ago, Noam saved the life of a senior colleague who had been severely wounded in a clash with terrorists in the Tulkarm area.”
“Noam, a resident of the community of Kida, leaves behind him Efrat and six children, as well as a clear legacy – to love our country, to contribute to the state and to fight our enemies with uncompromising determination,” Bennett said. “On behalf of the government of Israel and the entire nation, I would like to send condolences to his family. May his memory be for a blessing.”