Israeli Finance Minister Declined To Condemn Russia For War Crimes In Bucha

ISRAEL (April 5, 2022)– Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday declined to condemn Russia for war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine, a day after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke out against the massacre there.

“We all condemn war crimes,” Liberman told Army Radio in response to a question about the Bucha massacre. “There are mutual accusations here: Ukraine blames Russia, and Russia blames Ukraine.”

Rather than condemn one side, he said, “We need to understand there is a bloody war there, and we need to maintain Israel’s moral position and, at the same time, our interests.”

Asked about his comment hours later, Liberman persisted in saying only that there were “difficult images” from Bucha.

“My priorities are clear,” he told KAN News. “First and foremost, we have to deal with threats to Israel.”

The primary threat is that world powers may sign a nuclear deal with Iran “that lets the ayatollahs… earn $300 million each day from gas and oil,” Liberman said. “We will see that money in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen.”

Lapid on Sunday said: “It is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the horrific images from the city of Bucha near Kyiv, from after the Russian Army left. Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime, and I strongly condemn it.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday said: “I condemn murder of this kind. It really is a war crime.”

“Even in war, we must make sure to follow the values that are called morality in fighting,” he told KAN News. “Unfortunately, civilians can be harmed in the framework of war, but they cannot be murdered as part of a war. This is something that looks very serious.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the Bucha massacre.

Corpses were found in the streets of Bucha shortly after Ukraine retook the town from Russian forces over the weekend. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said hundreds of dead bodies of civilians were found.

Photos of the incident show that Russian forces organized the killing of civilians in Bucha by gunshots, with the victims’ hands tied behind their backs, according to a report by The Kyiv Independent. Similar killings took place in the city of Irpin, the report said.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk invited Liberman to visit Ukraine.

“We will take him with a convoy to Bucha and to other places where he can see for himself the bodies of civilians and meet the women who were tied up and raped. Maybe then he will know what happened,” he wrote on Facebook.

Other ministers condemned the massacre in Bucha, including Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who was in Ukraine to visit the Israeli field hospital on Monday, and Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai.

Gantz said Israel would be able to do what it needs to defend itself even after condemning Russia for committing war crimes.

When asked by KAN News whether Lapid’s condemnation would impact coordination with Russia in Syria, he said: “We will continue to act everywhere in the Middle East where we need to act.”

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria to prevent the Islamic Republic from entrenching itself near Israel’s northern border or transferring weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Jerusalem notifies Moscow before the strikes to alert the Russian Army, which is the dominant military force in Syria. This deconfliction mechanism has been one of the reasons Israeli leaders have cited for not taking a more vocal and active stance supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.

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Source: Reuters wrote the original article.

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