Former Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett fired back at a CNN International anchor who suggested Israel was using excessive force and firing indiscriminately against Hamas terrorists, asking her what she would want her country to do under extensive rocket fire.
CNN's Becky Anderson suggested to Bennett there was no way for Israel to obey "international law" when striking back at Hamas rocket attacks this week, which has targeted and killed Israeli civilians.
"How can any strikes on Gaza, which is such a densely populated area, be targeted at military sites only?" she asked. "It doesn't suggest that Israel is supporting international law … Perhaps will you admit that these airstrikes have been indiscriminate?"
"Absolutely not," Bennett said. "Perhaps you suggest that we just lay back, let them shoot rockets at us, not shoot back, because they are hiding the rockets behind women and children. Would you do that, Becky? If your family was under fire, would you suggest that your government not defend you because they are hiding the guns and rockets behind civilians?"
Anderson didn't answer, shifting to Israel having superior technology and asking him to admit Palestinian civilians were suffering the most during the conflict.
"They are suffering the most from their own government," he said, reiterating the known Hamas practice of using human shields and employing civilian areas as weapons depots. "Any country is expected to defend its citizens, and you, Becky, should not be speaking about us. It's them, it's Hamas, it's deplorable what they're doing, using their own people as human shields. There's nothing more cynical than that."
Anderson referred to Israel as "occupiers" and quoted organizations calling it an "apartheid" state during the interview, declaring Jerusalem had never been "more divided" than now.
"Where does this end, sir?" she asked.
"Actually, the city has been way more divided," he said. "When it was under Arab rule, Jews were forbidden to go to the Wailing Wall. While it's under Israeli rule, and it will continue to be under Israeli rule, any Muslim, any Christian, any Jew, can enjoy the freedom of religion … Yes, there are tensions."
The moment Hamas decided it no longer wanted to annihilate the Jews, he said, the conflict could end.
"The moment they give up their desire to annihilate the Jewish people and the Jewish land, there will be peace," he said.
Bennett shared the exchange on Twitter, writing in Hebrew, "While Hamas is raining missiles on Israel, a CNN interviewer has accused Israel of using ‘excessive force.’ Here is my answer. Together we will win!"
Bennett is a Knesset member leading the right-wing Yamina alliance. He made headlines this week by announcing he would not seek an ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by forming a unity government with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid, citing the ongoing violence.