Mark Regev, a Senior Adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pressed PBS NewsHour host Amna Nawaz to think twice before spewing war numbers provided by the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza.
“I need to ask you about the level of civilian casualties as a result of those bombings, though, because you’ve said before that Israel will take maximum steps to not — to avoid civilian casualties,” Nawaz said.
“As you know, the Gazan Health Ministry now says some 5,000 Palestinians have been killed in the last 17 days, including women and children.”
“The Gaza Ministry of Health is just a front for Hamas … a terrorist organization … We can’t take anything coming out of Hamas, including the so-called ‘Ministry of Health,’ at face value.”
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“I just wonder how you square saying that you’re avoiding civilian casualties as much as you can and that number of 5,000,” Nawaz asked.
“So, first of all, I don’t deny suffering in Gaza,” Regez answered.
“I don’t deny the fact that there have been Gazan civilians who have been killed in the crossfire between us and Hamas. But I would urge you please to be cautious with the numbers that come out of the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza.”
“Sure. Do you have more accurate numbers?” Nawaz pressed.
“No, I can’t give you more accurate numbers, but I’m urging you to be skeptical with those.” Regev said.
“Well, do you know how many Hamas terrorists you’ve hit, then?” Nawaz asked.
“Well, lots. And if all those 5,000 are Hamas terrorists, that’s a good thing. We want to get them.” Regev exclaimed.
“But, clearly, they’re not. All 5,000 are not. Do you know how many Hamas members or leaders you’ve hit?” Nawaz pushed further.
Regev responded, “We can only estimate. We, actually, if we compare our numbers, like in any combat situation, like, when the United States was leading a coalition…to get ISIS out of Mosul, there were civilian casualties. We think our ratio between civilian and combat casualties, between the people we want to get and between people — innocent bystanders, compares very well to NATO and other Western forces.”
“And, Mark, if I may, but what is that ratio? What are those numbers?” Nawaz questioned.
Regev shot back, “I’m not at liberty to discuss that, I apologize, because we’ve still got combat ongoing, and we haven’t had ground troops in yet, and the situation could change. But what I would say is this, we are trying to make a maximum effort to avoid collateral damage.”
“Hamas, unfortunately, has the opposite goal. And here is something that I think needs to be said, when we’re asking civilians to leave areas of expected heavy combat, Hamas is telling them to stay, and they must die for the crazy cause.”