The United States has strongly condemned a senior Israeli official for suggesting that Israel deter Palestinian suicide bombings by killing the fathers of perpetrators of such attacks.
The State Department says U.S. diplomats have lodged complaints both in Washington and Israel over the comments by the deputy Israeli internal security minister, Gideon Ezra, who said in a television interview last Sunday that the fathers of suicide bombers should be, as he put it, "liquidated" by Israeli security forces.
Briefing reporters, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said that as much as the United States condemns the suicide bombings, it deplores the comments by Mr. Ezra as incitement. "Our condemnation of suicide bombers has been very clear. We've said and continue to say that the Palestinians need to do everything possible to stop the violence, to pre-empt attacks by suicide bombers and arrest those responsible for the violence," he said. "But remarks such as the one reported, especially if coming from a senior government official, we do find offensive, reprehensible."
Spokesman Reeker said the United States is confident the Israeli government would never condone such a strategy, and would expect it to distance itself from the remarks of Mr. Ezra, a hard-line member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party.
The State Department has vigorously criticized Israel's on-going policy of what U.S. officials call the "targeted killing" of Palestinian militants held responsible for anti-Israel attacks.