On Thursday, John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, slammed a reporter with a foreign news organization after the reporter suggested that it was “harsh” for President Joe Biden to say that Palestinian officials are not credible.
The incident happened during a White House press briefing after Biden was asked the previous day about claims that the Palestinians have made about the number of people who have been killed in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes. Notably, it came shortly after the Palestinians lied about a rocket hitting a hospital in Gaza last week.
“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war,” Biden said to reporters, later adding: “I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”
A reporter from TV Globo, a Brazilian company, asked Kirby if Biden’s comments were “insensitive,” pointing out that the leftist group Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was “deeply disturbed” by Biden’s comments.
“Would the president apologize?” she asked. “And does he regret saying something like that?”
“No,” Kirby responded. “What’s harsh is the way Hamas is using people as human shields. What’s harsh is taking a couple of hundred hostages and leaving families anxious, waiting, and worrying to figure out where their loved ones are. What’s harsh is dropping in on a music festival and slaughtering a bunch of young people just trying to enjoy an afternoon. I could go on and on. That’s what’s harsh.”
“That is what’s harsh, and being honest about the fact that there have been civilian casualties and that there likely will be more is being honest, because that’s what war is,” he continued. “It’s brutal. It’s ugly. It’s messy. I’ve said that before. President also said that yesterday. Doesn’t mean we have to like it. And it doesn’t mean that we’re dismissing any one of those casualties.”
Kirby went on to say that the United States is working closely with Israel to try to help them minimize civilian casualties, but ultimately the loss of life in Gaza is the fault of Hamas.
“It would be helpful if Hamas would let [Gazans] leave — leave their homes, leave areas, not shelter in tunnels underneath their houses and in hospitals and let them get out,” Kirby said. “And let them get out of Gaza if they want to leave. We know that there are thousands waiting to leave Gaza writ large and Hamas is preventing them from doing it. That is what is harsh.”
OMG I can't believe I'm saying this, but….go John Kirby?
TV Globo’s @RKrahenbuhl: “So, besides saying that he doesn't have confidence in these numbers, the President went further to say that innocents will die and that this is the price of the war. You also said that.”
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 26, 2023