In as far as he speaks for the Israeli government, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz on Monday effectively accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.
Horowitz said that his visit to the Israeli field hospital established west of Lviv was a sign of “solidarity with Ukraine in the face of a brutal Russian invasion and in the face of the massacres and war crimes that are being uncovered these days across the country.”
He added that the field hospital, which until now has helped over 2,000 Ukrainians, represents the “true face” of Israel and its health system.
Adding his weight to the charges of crimes against humanity was Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who responded to the horrifying images coming out of the Kiev suburb of Bucha by stating: “Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and I strongly condemn it.”
These statements marked the harshest criticism of Russia by senior Israeli officials since the invasion of Ukraine began.
But do they represent the entire government? Does this mean that Israel itself has condemned Russia and accused it of war crimes?
Those question marks remain given that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett still refrains from condemning Russia in continued hope that he can play a mediating role.
Meanwhile, some senior officials like Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman insist on a balanced approach that puts the interests of Israel first.
“Russia is blaming Ukraine and Ukraine is blaming Russia,” he told Army Radio. “We condemn, but really what we need to understand is that there is a bloody war and we must, on the one hand, maintain Israel’s moral position and on the other hand preserve the interests of the State of Israel.”
How the tables have seemingly turned. High-ranking voices in Israel level charges of war crimes against a country that typically sides with those accusing Israel of war crimes. While others urge restraint and “balance” in approaching the matter.
Meanwhile, Western powers demand Israel join them in siding unequivocally against Russia. But these same Western powers themselves preach restraint and balance any time Israel is forced to fight its Arab foes, most notably those entrenched in Gaza.