Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders Reuters

The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday denied that he claimed Israel killed 10,000 Palestinian Arabs during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, CBS New York reported.

During an interview this week with the New York Daily News, the Jewish senator from Vermont said that “10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”

“I don’t have it in my number … but I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been,” he said.

Sanders was off on the number, however, as nearly 2,300 Palestinian Arabs were killed and another 10,000 wounded.

The comments elicited criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, who called on Sanders to publicly correct his statement.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan also condemned the comments, and suggested Sanders should get his facts straight before commenting on such matters.

But Sanders’ campaign rejected the criticism on Thursday, saying in a statement that Sanders’ position was “distorted.”

“The idea that Sen. Sanders stated definitely that 10,000 Palestinians were killed is just not accurate and a distortion of that discussion,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said, according to CBS New York.

“Bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be easy. It would help if candidates’ positions on this issue are not distorted,” added Briggs.

He added that there is “no candidate for president who will be a stronger supporter of Israel’s right to exist in freedom, peace and security.”