Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman leveled harsh criticism Tuesday against EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton over her comparison of the terror attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, to the situation in Gaza, calling them "inappropriate."
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of Palestinian youths in Brussels on Monday, Ashton said: "When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places."
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Lieberman, who is on official visit to China, said he "hopes Ashton will retract her statement."
"Israel is the most moral country in the world and despite the fact that it has to fight terrorist who operate from within civilian population, the IDF makes every effort possible not to harm that population, despite their defense of the terrorists.
"No army is as ethical as the Israeli army," he continued. "The IDF risks its soldiers' lives in order to minimize risk to civilian population. The children Ashton should be worried about are those living in southern Israel, who are in constant fear of Gaza rocket fire."
Vigil held near the school (Photo: AFP)
Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni (Kadima) echoed Lieberman's sentiment, calling Ashton's comments "misguided, wrong and outrageous. The demand that she retracts her statement is right.
"A hate crime or a leader butchering his people cannot be compared to a state's fight against terror, even if civilians are hurt in that fight."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak vigorously condemned the statements as well, saying:
"The comparison made by Ashton between events in Gaza, Toulouse and Syria is outrageous and disconnected from reality.
"The IDF is operating in Gaza with the utmost care in order to prevent hurting the innocent. I hope the EU foreign affairs commissioner realizes her mistake quickly and retracts her statements," he said.
The attack on Ozar Hatorah School, which is believed to be the work of neo-Nazis, claimed the lives of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons Gabriel and Arieh and 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of school headmaster Rabbi Yaacov Monsonego.
Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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