United States Secretary of State John Kerry has triggered an uproar in Israel yet again with remarks to the foreign press, this time for a claim that no Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2013.
Speaking in Germany, and echoing previous threats, Kerry once again warned of catastrophic results if Israel did not a US-sponsored peace deal.
He claimed that in Israel, "there’s [only] a momentary peace. Last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank."
"This year, unfortunately, there’s been an uptick in some violence,” he added, but warned that “the fact is the status quo will change if there is failure."
In fact, several Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria in 2013. The widow of one of them – 31-year-old Evyatar Borovsky – expressed hurt at Kerry’s remarks.
Kerry’s remarks reflect American apathy to Israel’s security and a distinct disconnect from the realities on the ground, Tsofia Borovsky accused, speaking to the Washington Free Beacon.
"I don’t even believe that Obama even knows there was a murder or anything," she said. "I’m not sure they actually know, that the American government knows what’s happening in Israel, that people are being murdered."
It has been less than a year since Evyatar was murdered, she noted. "Everyone here… is feeling it because terrorism is actually rising," she said. Indeed, a report from the Shin Bet (General Security Service) revealed a significant increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria in 2013.
"The Americans are supposed to be our best friends, but are actually working against us and putting our backs to the wall," she accused.
Kerry is "living on a planet of his own," she said.
Five Israelis were murdered by terrorists in Judea and Samaria in 2013. In addition to actor and father-of-five Evyatar, terrorists killed retired IDF officer Seraya Ofer, young soldiers Tomer Hazan and Eden Attias, who was stabbed to death on a bus as he slept, and Gabriel Kobi.
There were also several near-fatal attacks throughout the year, including a rock attack that left a 2-year-old girl fighting for her life, and an attack north of Jerusalem in which a terrorist shot a nine-year-old girl in the neck.
Even the relatively low death count was not for a lack of trying. Israeli security forces thwarted dozens of attacks last year; only yesterday it was revealed that the Shin Bet security forces had foiled a mass-casualty attack in Jerusalem planned for last December.
Borovsky added that in spite of the violence, Israelis living in Judea and Samaria just "want to live peacefully with whoever wants to accept us. We hope for good and better days."
And she was not the only Israeli victim of terrorism to lash out at the erroneous remarks.
Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem pizza shop, called it "an important statement that sums up the scale of human loss in numeric form and baldly asserts it didn’t occur."
"He may not realize even now he did that, and he surely won’t lose sleep over it," Roth wrote on his blog, This Ongoing War. "But it’s distressing that a Secretary of State, with the resources that come with the job, doesn’t check. What does that tell us about the humanity that he invests in such matters?"
State Department officials who responded to the Free Beacon report defended Kerry by saying that he had meant to refer to 2012, not 2013.
However, that answer didn't quite solve the problem either. While it is true that no Israelis were murdered by terrorists in Judea and Samaria in 2012, the overall number of Israelis murdered by terrorists that year was actually higher than in 2013, due to a larger number of fatal attacks elsewhere in the country. There were also several attacks targeting Israelis overseas in 2012.
In addition, the 2012 data did not reflect the "momentary peace" claimed by Kerry even within Judea and Samaria alone: 2012 saw a significant increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, however, attackers were less successful in causing fatal injury.