Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni came under fire for making a distinction between terrorists who attack civilians and enemy fighters who fight against IDF soldiers.
“Somebody who is fighting against Israeli soldiers is an enemy and we will fight back, but I believe that this is not under the definition of terrorism, if the target is a soldier,” Livni said in an interview three weeks ago on US television network ABC’s Nightline that was broadcast on Israel Radio Tuesday.
During the ABC interview, Livni was asked whether she considered her father, Eitan, who was the Irgun Zva’i Leumi’s director of operations during the pre-state days and fought British rule, a terrorist.
She replied that her father fought against British soldiers, not civilians, and agreed that if Hamas used suicide bombings only against soldiers she would not call that “terrorism.”
Israel’s former Consul General Alon Pinkas, who was frequently interviewed on Nightline, said that groups that exclusively target soldiers can legitimately be called “guerrilla organizations.”
Livni reiterated in an interview to Israel Radio Tuesday morning what she had said in the Nightline interview; namely, that attacks specifically against soldiers could be seen as “more legitimate” than attacks on Israeli civilians.
Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, has broken a taboo by declaring that Palestinians who kill Israeli soldiers are not terrorists.
The row began when Israeli radio broadcast an interview in which 48-year-old Mrs Livni said that attacks on Israeli soldiers were “more legitimate” than attacks on Israeli civilians.
“Somebody who is fighting against Israeli soldiers is an enemy and we will fight back,” she said. “But I believe that this is not under the definition of terrorism if the target is a soldier.”
Mrs Livni first made her comments during an interview recorded several weeks ago by the American ABC television network, where they went largely unnoticed.
But when they were broadcast in Israel this week they provoked an immediate angry reaction.
[Tzipi Livni’s defining and making a distinction between legitimate acts of resistance and terrorism, occurred back in 2006. It’s a significant statement and assessment by a major Israeli official which remains relevant and can’t be recanted]