Photo: AFP
Aftermath of strike in Kunduz
Photo: AFP

State Dept. confronted over criticism of Israel

Reporter Matt Lee notes that recent deadly strike on Afghan hospital, apparently by US, parallels Israeli shelling that the US sharply condemned as 'disgraceful.'

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee confronted the US State Department on Monday over its condemnation last year of Israeli shelling, drawing a parallel to the incident days earlier in which a purported US strike killed at least 16 people at a hospital run by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres in the Afghan city of Kunduz.




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At Tuesday's daily State Dept. press briefing, Lee noted that the US had in summer 2014 sharply denounced Israeli shelling that struck a UNRWA school in Gaza. The reporter quoted State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki's criticism of the incident in Gaza:


"The United States is appalled by today's disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed," Psaki said in a statement at the time.


"The coordinates of this school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, had been repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces. We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties. UN facilities, especially those sheltering civilians, must be protected, and must not be used as bases from which to launch attacks. The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians. We call for a full and prompt investigation of this incident as well as the recent shelling of other UNRWA schools."


Aftermath of Kunduz strike (Photo: AFP)
Aftermath of Kunduz strike (Photo: AFP)


Responding to the reporter's question, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the Kunduz incident was the subject of multiple investigations, and that the facts were still unclear. Toner added that the US military encourages all governments to take "every measure possible to avoid civilian casualties".


Unsatisfied with this answer, Lee pressed further: "What I’m most curious about is that this statement said the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes, which – and the military has said that it was called in because the Afghans asked for it," he said. "But MSF says that they had been given the coordinates much in the same way the IDF had been given the coordinates of the school in Rafah. So the question is – and I realize this is under investigation. But the question is if – the question is: If the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes on a humanitarian facility for which the coordinates had been given, that it seems to have changed."


Toner said he could not "get into" the incident and whether the coordinates were known, because it was all speculation.


But the journalist noted that the American condemnation of Israel occurred before an investigation into that incident.


"So can you say now, knowing what you did, that you – that this shelling of this hospital was disgraceful and appalling?" Lee asked.


Toner refrained from providing a definitive answer to this question, saying instead: "I would only just reiterate our sincere condolences to the victims of this attack and just again underscore the fact that we’re going to investigate this thoroughly. And as I said, once those investigations are complete, we’re going to take steps to – either to hold any responsible parties accountable or to take measures that avoid any kind of accident like this in the future."



פרסום ראשון: 10.06.15, 11:19
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