Benjamin Netanyahu Confronts NBC’s David Gregory Over Claim That Israel Targeted a U.N. School

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu profoundly slapped down moderator David Gregory’s assertion that Israel had been involved in the “targeting of a U.N. school that killed children and those civilians who were fleeing a safe place to go in the fighting.”

Netanyahu resoundingly condemned Gregory’s statement and insisted that the “Secretary General of the United Nations before this incident took place, said that, admitted that two U.N. schools in Gaza were used to stockpile rockets.” [See video below.]

The NBC host began his line of questioning by lamenting “about the price to Israel, [in] this ongoing conflict. The staggering number of dead civilians on the Palestinian side in Gaza” before falsely claiming that Israel had deliberately targeted a U.N. school in Gaza. Gregory continued to distort the facts in the case and wondered “was this a mistake on the part of Israel even though the U.N. says this was clearly marked and that the Israeli forces knew the GPS coordinates of this school?”  

For his part, Netanyahu called out Gregory’s misleading line of questioning and pushed back:

Hamas is responsible for the death of civilians. We're not targeting a single civilian. We're responding to Hamas action and we're telling the civilians to leave. Hamas is telling them to stay. Why is it telling them to stay? Because it wants to pile up their own dead bodies. They not only want to kill our people, they want to sacrifice their own people. 

As the segment continued, the Israeli Prime Minister continued to condemn Gregory’s accusations: 

We still do not target schools. These schools, the [sic] of these schools were used to attack us. Our forces responded, but our initial investigation now doesn't show that it's our fire, it actually shows that it may have been Hamas rocket fire. That's still being investigated. 

But the important thing to understand is that the reason we have civilians killed is not because Israel is targeting civilians but because Hamas is using civilians as human shields. We use missiles to protect our people. They use their people to protect their missiles. 

Gregory’s accusation that Israel has been targeting schools is familiar territory for the networks. Earlier this week, all three networks denounced the shelling of a U.N. school but failed to report on evidence showing Hamas’ repeated use of schools to house rockets during the fighting. If it wasn’t for Netanyahu’s push back, the NBC host’s proclamation would have gone unchallenged.

See relevant transcript below. 


NBC

Meet the Press

July 27, 2014

DAVID GREGORY: Let me ask you about the price to Israel, this ongoing conflict. The staggering number of dead civilians on the Palestinian side in Gaza and the fact that just this week you had condemnation from around the world by the targeting of a U.N. school that killed children and those civilians who were fleeing a safe place to go in the fighting. Was this a mistake on the part of Israel even though the U.N. says this was clearly marked and that the Israeli forces knew the GPS coordinates of this school? 

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, first of all, Hamas is responsible for the death of civilians. We're not targeting a single civilian. We're responding to Hamas action and we're telling the civilians to leave. Hamas is telling them to stay. Why is it telling them to stay? Because it wants to pile up their own dead bodies. They not only want to kill our people, they want to sacrifice their own people. 

GREGORY: But where can they go? You say they should leave. Where can they reasonably go? 

NETANYAHU: I'll get to it. I’ll tell you, there are plenty of places they can go to but Hamas is making sure that they don't go anywhere. Now, let me tell you about the school. Secretary General of the United Nations before this incident took place, said that, admitted that two U.N. schools in Gaza were used to stockpile rockets, and he condemned Hamas -- he condemned Hamas for allowing, turning these schools into military targets, legitimate military targets. Now we still do not target schools.

These schools, the [sic] of these schools were used to attack us. Our forces responded, but our initial investigation now doesn't show that it's our fire, it actually shows that it may have been Hamas rocket fire. That's still being investigated. But the important thing to understand is that the reason we have civilians killed is not because Israel is targeting civilians but because Hamas is using civilians as human shields. We use missiles to protect our people. They use their people to protect their missiles.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.