A day after the State Department’s Jen Psaki put the blame on Hamas for Israel’s killing of four boys on a Gaza beach– and NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin mocked her for doing so–during yesterday’s State Department briefing, she shifted her tone re the same slaughter. At 18:00 in the video above, AP’s Matt Lee bears down.
Matt Lee: — yesterday you didn’t have a lot to say about the incident on the beach in Gaza. I’m wondering if you have more to say about it today now that things are a little bit more clear about what happened, but also in general whether you think – well, what you think of the restraint or lack of restraint being shown by either side in this.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, as the violence continues, and it’s continued overnight, there were reports – that we don’t have confirmed – of additional children, I think, since then, unfortunately. But we are increasingly concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides. We continue to urge all parties to do all they can to protect civilians, and we have been heartbroken by the high civilian death toll in Gaza, including the death of four innocent Palestinian children as they were playing on a beach in Gaza just yesterday.
It was – the reports were horrifying, the photos were horrifying, the video was horrifying. The tragic event makes clear that Israel must take every possible step to meet its standards for protecting civilians from being killed. We will continue to underscore that point to Israel; the Secretary has made that point directly as well…
QUESTION: does that mean that you don’t believe that Israel is doing – is practicing what it preaches in this, that they have not shown the restraint that you have called for?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, you have seen – you may have seen, but I can flag for you – that they have – the Israelis have expressed their sorrow and regret in these cases. What we’re asking for is a redoubling of efforts moving forward to prevent civilian casualties, given the events of the last couple of days.
QUESTION: So you do not believe they have done enough to prevent civilian casualties – or you do?
MS. PSAKI: We believe that certainly there’s more that can be done.
QUESTION: And you said that the Secretary has made this point to Prime Minister Netanyahu and —
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: Was that today? Have they spoken?
MS. PSAKI: Over the last 24 hours. I think they spoke yesterday.
The Washington Post says that with this “pointed warning,” the U.S. State Department is pivoting on the character of the Israeli onslaught. Note that later in the briefing, Psaki cites a Shimon Peres statement about the killings of Palestinian civilians. Not a denunciation, just a handwringing. Psaki’s comments would also seem to be in the category of handwringing.