On Sunday, Israel’s expanding ground assault in Gaza claimed the lives of over 80 Palestinians. Thanks to a hot mike, the world now knows that Secretary of State John Kerry thinks that the Israeli military could be doing a better job of avoiding casualties.
Just before Kerry appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss Israel and Gaza, he had a phone conversation with one of his aides about the same subject. Fox’s cameras recorded part of an exasperated-sounding Kerry’s side of the chat: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation — hell of a pinpoint operation,” said Kerry to the person on the other end of the line, apparently in reference to the conflict’s mounting civilian death toll. (While not exactly known for his sense of humor, Kerry does appear to have mastered sarcasm.) “We’ve got to get over there,” he continued. “We ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”
Once Kerry was on the air, host Chris Wallace confronted him with the tape. “When you said, ‘it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,’ are you upset that the Israelis are going too far?” Wallace asked. Kerry waffled for a bit, calling the situation “very, very difficult,” and admitting, “Yeah, it’s tough to have this kind of operation, and I reacted obviously in a way you know that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians.” Still, he was sure to conclude his response by saying, with force, “We defend Israel’s right to what it is doing in order to get at those tunnels [that Hamas has dug under the Gaza border]” and calling for Hamas to accept a plan for a ceasefire, because that’s what diplomacy is all about.
A few hours later, the State Department announced that Kerry will leave on Monday morning for Cairo, where he will try to help broker a truce between Israel and Hamas.