WATCH: CNN's Jake Tapper Debates Palestinian's 'Culture of Martyrdom'

CNN's Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper fiercely debates former Palestinian Liberation Organization legal adviser Diana Buttu asking 'Why Hamas is launching rockets in Israeli population centers?'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

CNN Transcript:

"Let's bring in Diana Buttu in Nazareth, Israel. She is a human rights attorney and a former legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO. She has also served in the past as a negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Diana, good to see you.

Let's just start with the simple question. Why is Hamas launching rockets into Israeli population centers and are any other Palestinians trying to stop them from doing so?

DIANA BUTTU, HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Jake, I think it's important to lay out the sequence of events.

There's been a collective punishment that has been imposed on the West Bank ever since the three Israelis have gone missing. Since that time, the Israelis have been placing a blockade and siege on the Gaza Strip and then later bombing the Gaza Strip. This is not coming out of a situation of nothing.

In order to stop it, there have been attempts by the president to broker a cease-fire. He has called the United States, indicating they want a cease-fire to be taken into effect. But Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it absolutely clear that he does not want to have a cease-fire.

So, given this sequence of events, I'm afraid that we're actually going to see things get worse in the short time.

TAPPER: OK. I'm glad you got out your talking points there. Let's get back to my question.

Why is Hamas launching missiles into population centers of Israel? And are any other Palestinians trying to stop them from doing so?

BUTTU: As I have indicated, Jake, there have been attempts to try to stop all of this, but the fact of the matter is, is that the Israelis have indicated that they are not interested in brokering a cease-fire or seeing any cease-fire take shape whatsoever.

So, this isn't just a question of people coming together and stopping them, because the Israelis have indicated very clearly that they don't want this to stop.

TAPPER: Israel says Hamas has launched rockets every month for the past 10 years, that since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel.

BUTTU: Well, Jake, that's actually factually incorrect.

There have been cease-fires that have been brokered in the past. And each cease-fire that's been broken has been broken by Israel. It hasn't been broken by Hamas. In terms of the numbers, the number, while they sound devastating, in terms of the effect, it's actually not.

We're talking about very primitive rockets, as compared to the F-16s and F-18s that the Israelis are using against the Palestinians. This is not an equal war. This is a one-side atrocity. And this is why I think it's very important for us to be putting civilians in the center of this and trying to make sure that civilians are protected.

The only way I think that this is going to happen is if we have an international protection force that is brought in to ensure that civilians are not being targeted and not being hurt.

TAPPER: Let's talk about protecting civilians, because obviously some Palestinian civilians, some innocent children and the like have been killed in this assault.

Israeli government officials say they're trying desperately to avoid civilian casualties. And there are reports of the spokesman of Hamas -- we actually have the video of him going on Palestinian television, urging people to serve as human shields, staying in their homes, even if the IDF is warning people in those homes because they're Hamas officials' homes that they're going to be destroyed.

They're telling them to stay there. Do you, at all, find that reprehensible, using women and children to be human shields to protect these homes?

BUTTU: Jake, I haven't seen that video. But if that were the case, that would be reprehensible.

I think that the bigger picture is that this isn't the case. What we have seen is over the course of the past couple of days more than 80,000 Palestinians killed. The population of the Gaza Strip, 43 percent of it is under the age of 14. And we have seen that half of the people who have been killed are women and children.

The idea that Palestinians use their children as human shields is racist and reprehensible. And the idea that the Israelis are somehow spewing this and we're to believe it is also racist.


TAPPER: Diana, it's not racist.

We have video of the Hamas spokesman on television telling people to stay in their homes, that it's an effective way to make sure to fight off the Israelis. That's not racist. That's just a fact.

BUTTU: Jake, I haven't seen the tape, first and foremost.

And, secondly, as I have indicated that, if this were the case, then that would be reprehensible. I somehow do not believe, though, that people are going to listen to somebody who says stay inside while your house is being bombed.

People don't want to die, Jake. And the fact that the Israelis continue to drop bombs on them doesn't make them want to die any more. It's simply a fact that what the Israelis are doing is they're dropping bombs of a magnitude that we have never seen before on a captive civilian child population.

TAPPER: Well, it's horrific. But I can't believe that -- you tell me people don't want to die. There is a culture of martyrdom that we hear about all the time.

One of the big differences between the horrific incident of Mohammad Khdeir being killed and the three Israelis being killed is that whoever killed the three Israelis, it's possible that they will have streets named after them and they will get money from Hamas or from outside groups for killing the Israelis, whereas the Israeli government condemned the murder of Mohammad Khdeir.

BUTTU: Jake, I think that you're actually mistaking things.

If you look inside Israel, there are more than 42 cities that have names of streets named after people who themselves have killed and very openly killed Palestinians and are proud for killing Palestinians.

There isn't a culture of martyrdom, Jake. This is a situation in which Palestinians are being killed by the Israelis. Palestinians live and they want to live. They want to be able to live just like every other human being around the world.

And this constant refrain of a culture of martyrdom is very offensive. Palestinians just want to live their lives as normal human beings. And the fact that this military occupation has gone on for such a long time is creating a situation in which Palestinians are dying, not because they want to die, but because Israel is killing them.

TAPPER: Diana Buttu, thank you so much. BUTTU: Thank you."

Credit: Screenshot

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed


AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op