Israeli Minister Uses Air Quotes With 'Innocent People In Gaza' Mention

The dismissive motion came as Economic Minister Nir Barkat claimed that Israel doesn't "want anybody, any civilian, to suffer".

During a contentious Morning Joe interview on Thursday, Israeli Economic Minister Nir Barkat used air quotes as he spoke of “the innocent people in Gaza”, suggesting he does not believe there are innocent people in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Barkat made the motion with his hands as he responded to a comment from co-host Mika Brzezinski. He had come prepared for the interview with a poster showing the female hostages that are believed to remain in Hamas militants’ custody, using it to emphasise the brutality of the militants’ October 7 attack on Israel, which took more than 1,100 lives.

“Every victim in this has been mentioned by you, sir, except for civilians starving in Gaza, and I just want to point out that you never, even when asked, you didn’t mention that,” Brzezinski said, adding that she was not asking him to address the hunger crisis in Gaza.

Barkat did so anyway, claiming, “We don’t want anybody, any civilian, to suffer.”

“And we collaborate with the world, helping the ‘innocent people, the innocent people in Gaza’ — that 80% of them, 70, 80% of them support October 7 — we don’t want anybody to starve or anything,” he said with air quotes. “And we will be helpful to the world, collaborating and helping them.”

The conversation had begun with discussion of a New York Times story about Qatar’s funding of Hamas, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly encouraged before the October 7 attack in a strategy dubbed “buying quiet”.

Israeli officials often characterise the Israel Defense Forces as the most “moral army” in the world — a label that has attracted even more criticism amid Israel’s current campaign in Gaza.

Though Israel says its military is only targeting Hamas operatives, the death toll in Gaza is comprised largely of women and children. The entire population is believed to be at imminent risk of starvation, with many forced to live in makeshift tent communities. Aid groups are also hesitating to continue providing humanitarian relief after Israeli sniper fire took the lives of seven World Central Kitchen workers this week.

United Nations officials have criticized Israelis’ treatment of their Palestinian neighbours as “dehumanising” and said last month that Israel has “lost all credibility on its claims to protect civilians”.

Reports in multiple news outlets this week described artificial intelligence systems allegedly used by the IDF to determine targets for military strikes, claiming they are used with minimal human oversight and offer incorrect identifications 10% of the time.

According to the White House, President Joe Biden discussed the situation in Gaza with Netanyahu in a call Thursday, warning that US support for Israel was contingent on protections for Gaza’s civilians.


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