Israeli anchor, who criticised the ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees, fired a debate on Israeli occupation in West Bank
Israeli news anchor Oshrat Kotler came under fire from Israeli politicians and religious groups after she described soldiers in the occupied West Bank as “human animals”.
"When you send your children to the army, they are kids, you send them to the territories [occupied West Bank] and they come back as human animals, and this is the result of the occupation," said Oshrat Kotler, the news anchor for Channel 13 TV.
Her remarks came as she presented a report on five Israeli soldiers who have been prosecuted for torturing blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian detainees with sharp objects.
Her words sparked fierce debate on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and extreme militarisation in Israel and her show went off the air soon after. She has faced a strong backlash from religious figures to prominent politicians including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu directly targeted the news anchor and tweeted: “Proud of IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] and love them very much. Oshrat Kotler’s words should be roundly condemned.”
Netanyahu, when giving a speech at the weekly cabinet meeting,criticised the anchor’s remarks again: “I am proud of IDF soldiers. They are protecting us and we are carrying out the supreme humanitarian and moral mission of defending our people and protecting our country against those who want to slaughter us.”
He added: “The journalist's words deserve all condemnation.”
It was not just Netanyahu who spoke against Kotler, more than 2,000 people complained about the journalist to the Israeli Authority for Television and Radio.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett was among those who responded to Kotler. Bennett tweeted: “Oshrat, you’re confused. IDF soldiers give their lives so you can sleep peacefully.”
The minister then demanded an apology, writing: “IDF soldiers are our strength. Our children. Apologise.”
However, Kotler’s employer Channel 13, publicly backed the journalist by publishing a statement saying: “Oshrat Kotler is a journalist with strong opinions and she expresses them from time to time, like other journalists on our staff who hold other opinions. Oshrat expressed her personal opinion only.”
Kotler, realising the backlash against her, clarified her statement at the end of the show by claiming that she was particularly criticising the five soldiers who tortured Palestinian detainees, not the entire Israeli Defence Forces.
“My criticism was directed only at those soldiers who have been driven to harm innocent people due to our control over the Palestinians in the territories,” she said.