- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Obama administration says Israel might be using excessive force and possibly committing acts of terrorism to deal with a string of violent stabbing attacks, drawing harsh criticism from senior Israeli Cabinet ministers. 

Rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions have led to a wave of violence in Israel, including multiple stabbing incidents in Jerusalem. The attacks have prompted the Israeli government to deploy troops to assist police forces countering the violence. Israeli police have also encouraged citizens to arm themselves to prevent further attacks.

The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to equate both sides in the conflict, telling reporters that Israel is guilty of terrorism.

“Individuals on both sides of this divide are — have proven capable of, and in our view, are guilty of acts of terrorism,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters after questions about the spike in violence. 

Mr. Kirby added that the administration has heard “credible reports” of Israelis using excessive force to deal with the Palestinian attacks. 

We’re always concerned about credible reports of excessive use of force against civilians, and we routinely raise our concerns about that,” Mr. Kirby said. 

The comments drew sharp criticism from Israeli officials.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon accused Washington of misreading the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said that shooting knife-wielding Palestinians was self-defense. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the U.S. remarks “foolish,” Reuters reported.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry is set to travel to the Middle East soon to try to calm the violence, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered Cabinet members not to give any further public comment on the Obama administration’s remarks. 

Seven Israelis and 32 Palestinians have been killed in the past two weeks of violence, including 10 assailants, as well as children and protesters shot in anti-Israeli demonstrations. 

The violence has been partly triggered by Palestinians’ anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is also revered by Jews as the site of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples.



• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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