NBC's Peter Alexander asked a question about the violence taking place in Gaza at Monday's press briefing, wondering if the White House approved of Israel killing Palestinians "at will."
Israeli security forces killed dozens of people keeping back protesters near the Gaza border fence on Monday while Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were opening the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Alexander quoted French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's statement calling on Israel to "exercise discernment and restraint."
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the responsibility for these deaths "rests squarely with Hamas."
"So, to be clear, does the U.S. not agree with the French, that Israeli authorities should exercise discretion and restraint?" Alexander asked Shah.
"We believe that Hamas is responsible for what's going on," Shah said.
"So there's no responsibility beyond that on the Israeli authorities, kill at will?" Alexander asked.
"What I'm saying is that we believe that Hamas as an organization is engaged in cynical action that's leading to these deaths," Shah said.
First question at today’s White House press briefing is about the violence along the Gaza border https://t.co/00NCphiISU— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) May 14, 2018
"Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response," he added later after another question on the same subject. "As the Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] said, Israel has the right to defend itself."