June 16th, 2009
01:28 PM ET
5 years ago

Carter decries destruction in Gaza

Former President Jimmy Carter arrives in the Ezbet Abed Rabbo district of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
Former President Jimmy Carter arrives in the Ezbet Abed Rabbo district of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.

(CNN) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on a visit to Gaza that he had to "hold back tears" when he saw the destruction caused by the deadly campaign Israel waged against Gaza militants in January.

Carter was wrapping up a visit to the region during which he met representatives of all sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Among the sites he visited was the American school that was destroyed by the bombings Israel initiated in response to rocket attacks launched from Gaza into southern Israel.

"It is very distressing to me. I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been raked against your people. I come to the American school which was educating your children, by my own country.

"I see it's been deliberately destroyed by bombs from F16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis. I feel partially responsible for this - as (do) most all Americans and Israelis," Carter said at a news conference.

"The only way to avoid this tragedy happening again is to have genuine peace," he added, pointing out that many Palestinians are now fighting each other in the West Bank and Gaza because of their affiliations with Hamas or Fatah.

"It's very important that Palestinians agree with each other, to cooperate and stop attacking each other and to build a common approach to an election that I hope to witness and observe next January the 25th."

After the briefing, Carter headed to a graduation ceremony for students who completed a human rights curriculum provided by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

"The human rights curriculum is teaching children about their rights and also about their responsibilities," Carter said in his speech to graduates.

In his speech to graduates, Carter said bombings, tanks and a continuing economic siege have brought death, destruction, pain and suffering to Gaza. "Tragically, the international community largely ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are treated more like animals than human beings."

"The responsibility for this terrible human rights crime lies in Jerusalem, Cairo, Washington, and throughout the international community," Carter said.

After meeting with Hamas leaders, Carter said, "The Hamas leaders want peace and they want to have reconciliation not only with their Fatah brothers but also eventually with the Israelis to live side by side.

– CNN's Shira Medding contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Jimmy Carter
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Jimmy the Greek

    Hey Jimmy (carter), why don't you just stay in Gaza and help build houses.

    Here's a little CLUE for you... if Palestinians would STOP the rocket attacks, suicide bombers, and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers... the people in Gaza would have NOTHING to fear.

    Carter is a terrorist tool!

    June 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Ron

    Mr. Carter is a doddering fool if he think Hamas is interested in peace.
    They, like the vast majority of the Arab world, are interested in the annihilation of Israel. I'm not defending Israel, but they do have the right to defend themselves. The persistent rocket attacks by Hamas required a response – Israel pleaded for the attacks to stop and they did not – if Canada was raining explosives down on Buffalo or Detroit,
    would Mr. Carter criticize the U.S if we were to take action to stop it ?

    June 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. JonDie

    It's a relief to see at least one American in the world actually recognized genocide and war crimes (by Israel) when he sees it. Most Americans are too blind to see.

    June 16, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. zuheir al-faqih

    We can hope that President Carter's words will, in the end, inspire a frank and undistorted discussion of the "ethnic cleansing" that is at the heart of hardline Isareli policy and, if I might add, the anathema of Judaism or any group that professes love of humanity but views "the other" as less than human and therefore not worthy of consideration.
    God help the Israelis who are in the thrall of fear and forgive their leaders. In the end, countries–like people–are held accountable for their deeds by the same and only God, whether it is Israel, Iran, Iraq, Cambodia, Chile, etc. etc.

    June 16, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Immediate feedback

    Right before roadside bombs were discovered along Pres. Carter's envoy route. Hamas extremists backing al-Qaeda are suspected to be behind the assassination attempt.

    June 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Paul Lacques

    Jimmy Carter–the only public figure with a moral rudder. Good luck, America.

    June 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. ray ray

    Carter has lost his mind. He states,

    "The responsibility for this terrible human rights crime lies in Jerusalem, Cairo, Washington, and throughout the international community,"

    Gee – ya think Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iran, and those supporting and supplying terrorist play ANY role, Jimmah?

    June 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Does Mr. Carter have to "hold back tears" when he sees the deliberate destruction caused by hundreds of rockets fired upon Isreal on a daily basis by Hamas and the like? Where is his criticism of that? He should do what all ex-presidents did, retire and keep his opinions to himself.

    June 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Chuck, Tennessee

    "I feel partially responsible for this — as (do) most all Americans and Israelis," Carter said at a news conference.

    Speak for yourself. You don't speak for "most all" Americans and Israelis. Why don't you place the blame where it belongs – on Hamas. Our country would be better off if you and your kind would defect to some left-leaning, terrorist-loving country. I'm sure France would love to have you.

    June 16, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Lisa B

    I'm curious, why isn't the President touching basis on this? Didnt his former Pastor Rev Wright say something about Gaza being ethnical cleansed? I think folks need to start listening to some things the Rev is talking about. His problem is on world issues, not because he's a racist, but how people are treated in the U.S and abroad.

    June 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. bozo obama

    revoke the citizenship of this America hater...He is a lifelong terrorist of this country. Like Ted Kennedy, he pollutes our air with every breath.

    June 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Tim

    I wish Carter nothing but the worst. He is an idiot and a disgrace to our country.

    June 16, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Terry

    Mr. Carter is the best Christian who has occupied the White House. I am proud of the two votes I cast for him, and I am still bewildered that the nation replaced him with a third rate actor and a fourth rate intellect.

    I don't agree with everything he says, but I listen to everything he says and think about it. The man does not play politics.

    June 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. emilio

    Jimmy Carter, the President who destroyed the American economy and humiliated out country with his foreign policy failures is now a bleeding heart for the terror enclave of Gaza which mercilessly bombed Israeli towns and finally got a well deserved punch in the face.

    Boo Hoo. Stop bomging and the Israelis will leave alone. Build up your own society and stop blaming the world for your problems. Go to your rich Arab oil sheiks for money and help.

    Jimmy Carter is a national embarassment and should go back to Gerogia and work on his peanut farm.

    June 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Lee, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Jimmy, you were the worst President of modern times and you're anti-Semitic messages are not needed today.

    You did absolutely nothing right when you were President and that continues today. Go home to Plains Georgia.

    June 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. WBN

    Well, it would be nice if Carter could shed tears for Israelis who were showered with missles for many months leading to the Israeli response. All human suffering is tragic, but Carter has lost all balance in the Arab-Israeli conflict–which cannot be settled, but can only be managed.

    June 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Natasha

    Did you have tears watching kids in Israeli bomb shelters hiding from Palestinian rockets in January?

    June 16, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. Reformed Republican

    Sorry Jimma, I don't feel at all responsible and it's high-handed and sanctamonous of you to say such a thing on America's behalf.
    The terrorists on the Gaza strip got what they deserved for sending rockets into Isreal and killing women and children. If you would have done the same thing to Iran that Isreal did to Hamas instead of letting the mullahs walk all over you when you were POTUS the middle east would be a much safer, stable place today.
    Don't go preaching your fundamentalist evangelical whinings at me...

    June 16, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. true daughter of the american revolution

    another case of throwing money down the toilet. nothing will change as long as we continue to support this type of situation.
    left to their own devices, with no money for weapons, i'll bet a lot of violence would stop and people would have to work together.
    but as long as we continue to supply arms and weapons, they will continue to be used.

    June 16, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. Tommy

    Well, I can see the talking heads on Fixed news and CNN now lambasting the former president for his views. Just like the ignorant statements they made over his book on Palestine last year.

    I mean, just think about it. Whom do you believe knows more on this issue? Jimmy Carter – a former president who has visited the region and talked with its leaders for decades? or Hannity / O'Reilly / Blitzer / Dobbs / etc. The talking heads say the crap they have to say to stay employed. They have sponsors after all.

    I believe that if the Israeli's believe they can do what they want in this process, then let them. But at the same time, we cut ties. How can we be so closely allied to an entity that causes so much suffering in the region? How can we be so closely allied when they act so duplicitously? C'mon people, THINK!

    June 16, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. Fort Lauderdale

    It's a shame that Carter has become the frontman and clownface for HAMAS terrorists. During his administration, he presided over the debacle of the Iranian Revolutionary Regime holding hundreds of American hostages for a year, and then for a ludicrous botched attempt by a few faulty helicopters to "invade" Iran.

    The result is the chaos and madness you see today in Iran. Good timing.

    Carter was such a failure in foreign and domestic policy, he is a sad face, and makes me want to cry too.

    June 16, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. republicans rule

    go to sleep old man

    June 16, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Respect

    He is exactly right?

    June 16, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Louis

    CARTER IS A MORON: When has he visited the sites of countless unprovoked rocket atttacks on Israel sent from Gaza? If rockets were sent into the United States over our border, everyone including Carter would demand swift and harsh retaliation. Criticizing only Israel is the height of hypocrisy.

    June 16, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. jimbo

    Jimmy Carter is making the world believe that we are a nation of cuckholds. Isn't he the guy that "solved" the North Korean problem a few years back? I'll bet he carries a Neville Chamberlain doll with him in his suitcase.

    June 16, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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