A heated exchange erupted in the Knesset between the prime minister and Joint Arab List members, who walked out of the hall.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was verbally attacked by Arab MKs in the Knesset Wednesday while explaining the government’s decision to assassinate Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) senior commander Baha Abu Al-Ata in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The PIJ reacted to the targeted killing by firing over 450 rockets at Israel in two days, which led to multiple IDF airstrikes in response that eliminated more than two dozen additional terrorists.
Netanyahu emphasized that he had nixed the operation until the IDF could assure him that there would be little to no collateral damage, and then noted, “That is completely different from what those terrorists do, and there are Knesset members here who are defending them, when they deliberately target civilians, deliberately target residential neighborhoods.”
He then castigated an angered Joint Arab List MK Ahmad Tibi for a rally in which one of his colleagues “sought every possible way to condemn us as war criminals.”
Tibi approached the podium where Netanyahu stood and shouted, among other things, “You are lying shamelessly. You are an inciter, you are a liar!”
When he would not stop his diatribe, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein had him removed from the plenum. The entire Arab List then left the hall in protest, chanting that the events that have unfolded were “the negotiations war, the operation to save Netanyahu.”
Netanyahu then lashed out at his accusers.
“This is insufferable. I think the time has come to tell the truth about what we are doing and also about what others say we are doing,” he stated.
“We spare no effort to avoid harm to [innocents]. No other army in the world makes such an effort. We are trying to [hit the target] with unmatched surgical precision, and we proved that [yesterday]. The IDF’s operation in the Gaza Strip was an operation that will be studied – and is already being studied – by armies around the world, in order to achieve this distinction.”
“What some Knesset members are doing is inconceivable,” he continued. “Those who do respect the laws of war – IDF soldiers, IDF commanders, and the Israeli government which sends them – they define them as war criminals, and thus distort the entire moral basis of justified and necessary fighting in the face of terror.”
Those who do this are actually “abetting the real war crimes that are being committed in this region, and no protest, or shouting, or slamming of doors and leaving the hall will change this simple truth that I uttered here.”