Defense Minister Ya'alon: No Comparison Between Israeli and Palestinian Mourning

Palestinian society 'wishes for death and seeks destruction,' Ya'alon tells gathering of families of fallen soldiers.

Defense Minister Ya'alon speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference, February 14, 2016.
Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday that there was no room for comparing Israeli mourning to Palestinian mourning, since Palestinian society "wishes for death and seeds destruction." 

"Mourning in a society that seeks life, a society that educates its sons to live, to be human, to act like humans, to strive for peace, that's our society," the defense minister, who was addressing a gathering organized by Yad Lebanim, the national organization for families of fallen soldiers, said. 

"Facing us is a society that seeks death, like we see around us, their joy when the son becomes a martyr, a society that respects nothing," he said. 

Ya'alon's comments alluded to the recent furor caused by Army Radio host Razi Barkai. Two weeks ago, in an interview with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan over the demand by parents of East Jerusalem terrorists to receive the bodies of their children for burial, Barkai angered the parents of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who were killed in 2014's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose bodies have not been returned to their families.

Barzai had wondered if there were a difference between the feelings of Palestinian and Israeli parents whose children’s bodies are being held by the other side: by the Israeli government or, in the case of the soldiers, Hamas.

The Goldin and Shaul families complained bitterly over the comparison; Barkai apologized but refused to take back what he said.

"We're sending our soldiers to fight to protect our civilians, and we don't hide behind our civilians to fight against someone else," Ya'alon said. "A society that chooses life doesn't seek wars, but strives for peace and sees war as a necessity and that's what we're doing." 

"That's why there's no comparison between mourning on our side and mourning on their side," Ya'alon concluded. 

The defense minister's comments echoed a speech given by Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, who addressed the same forum the day before. “It is impossible not to feel the difference between the bereavement that accompanies and greets us in your gaze, and that which we have met intensively in recent years in the eyes of some of our neighbors,” he said.