2001: Support for Israeli Military Targeted Killing Policy

Joe Biden defended Israel against criticisms of its assassination operations against Palestinians, suggesting that disagreements with Israel should be kept private.

397838 01: Palestinian mourners chant Islamic slogans as they carry the body of Hamas militant Osama Heles during his funeral November 28, 2001 in Gaza City. Heles died as he attacked Israeli vehicles on a main road in the Gaza Strip, killing one Israeli settler. (Photo by Getty Images)
Palestinians mourn in the streets as they carry the body of Hamas militant Osama Heles during his funeral in Gaza City on Nov. 28, 2001. Photo: Getty Images

Following rare public criticism from the Bush administration directed at Israel’s policy of assassinating suspected Palestinian militants, Joe Biden weighed in to defend Israel’s right to carry out such killings and even rebuked President George W. Bush for criticizing them. “My view has always been that disagreements between Israel and the United States, those differences should be aired privately, not publicly,” Biden said. He also defended the legality of targeted killings, which at the time were considered highly questionable by legal experts for occurring outside a declared conflict. “I don’t believe this is a policy of assassinations,” Biden said, referring to the targeting of suspected Hamas members. “There is in effect a declared war, a declaration by an organization that has said its goal is to do as much as it can to kill Israeli civilians.”

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