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Smotrich Issues a Second Apology for Huwara Comments Before US Trip

By 03/09/2023 1:00 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, expressed regret for his past statements that the Palestinian town of Huwara “has to be wiped out” in a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday.

He walked them back multiple times since making the initial statements a week ago. Last Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appreciated Smotrich’s clarification that he did not intend for innocent people to suffer harm.

But up until Wednesday, Smotrich had refrained from offering an apology.

In his essay, which is almost 1,600 words long, Smotrich described how he was shocked to learn from a buddy who is a senior fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force how his comments affected other pilots.

He informed me that some of the pilots had interpreted my remark as a request for the IAF to “wipe out” Huwara and its inhabitants from the sky.

They had experienced “genuine concern” due to such an intent on the part of a senior minister and member of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet, as well as what they saw to be the government’s acquisition of uncontrolled authority as a result of judicial reform.

He continued, “In their perspective, this may result in such an entirely illegal order being delivered to the IAF, which they were not prepared to carry out.

The recent announcement by a group of Israel Air Force reserve fighter pilots that they would forego a day of combat training in opposition to the suggested judicial reforms, he continued, was seen differently as a result.

He claimed that the pilots’ actions were not motivated by a cynical political justification for their opposition to the reforms but by genuine concern.

If I was a part of destroying the crucial trust between the IDF, the people’s army, and the elected [government], it is essential for me to first apologize to the IDF and its commanders, with a focus on the IAF, Smotrich wrote.

Smotrich, 43, is a minister in the Defense Ministry who oversees Judea and Samaria’s civil affairs and has significant control over the region’s political choices. Area C in Judea and Samaria, as established by the Oslo Accords, is under his jurisdiction; more than half of Huwara is situated in Area C, where Smotrich intends to hasten the construction of Jewish villages while limiting Palestinian development.

His first comments were made on February 28, two days after the shooting deaths of Israeli brothers Hallel Menachem and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv in Huwara. A few hundred Jews rioted in the town later that evening, some setting fire to Palestinian property and fighting with local Arabs.

According to reports, one Palestinian was killed in a nearby village during a riot.

Smotrich declared Huwara “has to be wiped away” at a panel discussion, adding, “I think the State of Israel should do this and not—God forbid—private persons.”

His remarks sparked a backlash, particularly in Washington, where the Biden administration is now debating whether to refuse him a visa to enter the country to attend an Israel Bonds conference this Sunday.

No U.S. government representative will meet with Smotrich during his visit to Washington, D.C.; the White House announced last week.



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