Sanders under fire for saying 10,000 Palestinians killed in 2014 Gaza war


US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been criticised for saying that more than 10,000 Palestinian civilians were killed in the 2014 Gaza conflict.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry estimated that 761 civilians died during the hostilities, while the Gaza Health Ministry put the number at 1,617.

Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt called on the Jewish senator to publicly admit the mistake, saying: “Accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for US credibility in the international community.

“We urge Senator Sanders to correct his misstatements.”

As well as censuring Israel for carrying out “indiscriminate” attacks in Gaza, the Democratic Party representative also called on Israel to withdraw from illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The Vermont senator won the Wisconsin primary this week by a 13.5 per cent margin, taking all but one county in the state, but still lags behind Hillary Clinton in the race for the nomination.

Speaking to the New York Daily News on Monday, he said: “I don't remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”

When told by the interviewer that this number was “probably high,” he responded: “I don't have it in my numbers, but I think it's over 10,000.

“My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were levelled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe - and I don't think I'm alone in believing - that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.”

The senator agreed that Hamas was a terrorist organisation and admitted that “the Palestinians, some of them, were using civilian areas to launch missiles. Makes it very difficult.”

But though he said Israel had not committed war crimes, he claimed that “most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed.

“I think there is a general belief that, with that technology, they could have been more discriminate in terms of taking out weapons that were threatening them.”

In response to questions about Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Mr Sanders said that “if the expansion was illegal, moving into territory that was not their territory, I think withdrawal from those territories is appropriate.”

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