Israeli minister: Hamas bringing disaster on Gaza

Israel Materials 29 February 2008 18:24 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai caused Palestinian outrage Friday when he was interpreted as saying Hamas was bringing a "Holocaust" on Gazans by launching rockets at Israel.

In an interview with Israel Army Radio, Vilnai used the Hebrew term "shoah," which can either mean "disaster," or more specifically "holocaust."

"The more the Qassam (rocket) fire is intensified and the longer their ranges, they are bringing greater disaster (shoah) on themselves," Vilnai told Army Radio.

"There are a a bunch of irresponsibles there and they are called the Hamas leadership - and they are in for it," he said.

Vilnai's spokesman Eitan Ginzburg stressed the minister had meant to use the word "shoah" in its meaning of "disaster," and not as "Holocaust."

"The phrase that the deputy defence minister used is a phrase which is accepted and known in Hebrew as 'bringing disaster on oneself.' There is no context whatsoever to the Holocaust that happened in Europe. It is not connected at all," Ginzburg told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

A Hamas-run website however condemned the statement. The site by the radical Islamic movement ruling Gaza charged it marked "the first indirect admission" by an Israeli official that Israel was conducting a "holocaust" against the Palestinians.