Bernie Sanders had only just won the Wisconsin primary when the transcript of his interview in the New York Daily News was published, an interview which cast serious doubt over his readiness to become President of the United States.
Of the many issues covered in the interview, one which stood out was his position on Israel. During the interview, Sanders estimated that 10,000 Palestinian civilians were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
When asked whether or not he supports the Palestinian Authority turning to the International Criminal Court in order to prosecute Israel, Sanders said no. When pressed to explain his answer, Sanders simply said, " Look, why don't I support a million things in the world? I'm just telling you that I happen to believe...anybody help me out here, because I don't remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”
The interviewer replied, telling the Senator from Vermont that the number he quoted was probably too high. Sanders then said, "I don't have it in my number...but I think it's over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don't think I'm alone in believing that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.”
When asked what Israel could have done differently during Operation Protective Edge, Sanders responded by saying, "You're asking me now to make not only decisions for the Israeli government but for the Israeli military, and I don't quite think I'm qualified to make decisions. But I think it is fair to say that the level of attacks against civilian areas...and I do know that the Palestinians, some of them, were using civilian areas to launch missiles. Makes it very difficult. But I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed. Look, we are living, for better or worse, in a world of high technology, whether it's drones out there that could, you know, take your nose off, and Israel has that technology. And I think there is a general belief that, with that technology, they could have been more discriminate in terms of taking out weapons that were threatening them."
Nevertheless, Sanders did try to save face, stating "I lived in Israel. I have family in Israel. I believe 100 percent not only in Israel's right to exist, a right to exist in peace and security without having to face terrorist attacks. But from the United States' point of view, I think, long-term, we cannot ignore the reality that you have large numbers of Palestinians who are suffering now, poverty rate off the charts, unemployment off the charts, Gaza remaining a destroyed area. And I think that for long-term peace in that region, and God knows nobody has been successful in that for 60 years, but there are good people on both sides, and Israel is not, cannot, just simply expand when it wants to expand with new settlements. So I think the United States has got to help work with the Palestinian people as well. I think that is the path toward peace."
The true number of casualties in Operation Protective Edge, conducted over a period of 50 days in the summer of 2014, is about 2,125. About 44 percent of them were reportedly armed combatants, fighting for Hamas or other terror organizations.