White House: Hamas To Blame for Continued Violence, Israel Has Right to 'Defend Itself'


As officials and dignitaries gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the move of America’s embassy in Israel, Palestinian protesters gathered at the border on Monday armed with rocks and incendiary devices.

When dozens of Palestinians were killed, world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron condemned a deadly reaction from Israeli forces.

American officials, however, placed the blame squarely on the Palestinian side, citing the influence of U.S.-designated terror organization Hamas.

The first question during a White House press briefing on Monday sought a reaction from the Trump administration regarding the deaths along the border.

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“We’re aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza today,” White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in what appeared to be prepared remarks.

He went on to declare that the “responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas.”

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley echoed that position in comments she made the following morning.

“This is how determined they are to make the lives of the Palestinian people miserable,” she said.

Is Israel's response appropriate?

Haley cited reports that the Hamas-backed protesters “light Molotov cocktails, attached to kits on fire, and attempt to fly them into Israel to cause as much destruction as possible.”

She claimed other nations would not abide such provocations at their own borders.

“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” Haley said. “In fact, the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.”

Newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reacted similarly late last month in reaction to escalating violence along the Gaza Strip.

“We do believe the Israelis have the right to defend themselves and we are fully supportive of that,” he said, according to CBS News.

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Pompeo did not meet with Palestinian officials during the Middle East trip during which he made those remarks. He did express America’s continued willingness to pursue a two-state solution with the goal of lasting peace in the region.

“An important piece of achieving Middle East stability is to resolve this conflict,” he said. “Precisely how to rank it among all the various challenges, I’ll defer on that. Know that it is (an) incredible priority for the United States to provide whatever assistance we can to allow the two parties to come to a resolution.”

Shah cited Pompeo’s prior comments in his statement to reporters on Monday.

“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response and as the secretary of state said, ‘Israel has the right to defend itself.'”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Topics of Expertise
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