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

Carter decries destruction in Gaza

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/16/art.carterhamas20616.gi.jpg caption="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. Peter

    Even if you didn't like him as a president....You must agree what took place in Gaza is horrible..

    June 16, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Peter

    Jimmy Carter is a joke. How can you give any credence to cries for peace from a political entity that refuses to accept the state of Israel's right to existence?

    June 16, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. franklin

    Carter is an anti-Semite who has become an embarrassment to the US. He was one of the worst Presidents inn American history, a total failure, and is only interested in re-writing his pathetic legacy. He need to go home to Georgia and mind his peanut fields.

    June 16, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. munchmom

    Well, I guess apologizing is in the Dems blood! Good grief–leave Israel alone!! They are God's chosen people, and no matter what we all decide to do over there, in the end God will prevail and set up His Kingdom there, just as the Bible tells us. And Jimmy Carter should know that, considering he is a Christian and has been active in church his whole life.

    June 16, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Someone should put this man in a nursing home and tell him to with all due respect, shut up and leave foreign affairs to others who may be a bit wiser than him! His failed presidency and his stupid foreign policy decisions put an end to peace and stability in the middleeast and everyone knows that he hails Hitler for what he was trying to do with the Jews! This man is a embarrasement to the United States and should be told to stay away!!

    June 16, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Vegas

    To be fair, he now needs to visit the areas on the Israeli side and witness the devastation caused by Hamas.

    June 16, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. J.P.

    Why is this dangerous, old, terrorist-appeaser still in public?

    Jimmy, buddy, isn't it time you went away to a nice home and pooped yourself?

    Gazans and "Palestinians" will be treated like humans when they stop firebombing pizza parlors for the crime of "not being muslim."

    June 16, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Bill

    1. U.N. Names Bill Clinton Envoy to Haiti.
    2. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on a visit to Gaza.

    When will we see George W. Bush visiting other Countries?
    If so, All Media Journalists there will be invited bare feet, without Shoes. 😛

    June 16, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Carter, you're a dork.

    Since Israel became a nation in 1948, she has had to defend herself from attack countless times.

    NEVER ONCE did she start the hostilities. But she finished them EVERY time. Successfully. Which is a lot more than you can say about your wonderful hostage rescue missions.

    And now you want to take Hamas off the list of terrorist organizations? Here's a dollar, Jimmy – go buy a clue. Israel is our only ally in this volatile part of the world.

    Why don't you just go away quietly?

    June 16, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Neutralizer

    Well well Jimmy, if the Palestinians like what you're saying, how come they wanted to assassinate you?

    June 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Debra Goodman

    As someone who used to admire Carter for his measured and objective approach to issues in the Middle East, I am appalled by his ignorance when stating that "Hamas leaders want peace..." etc. While I agree that Israel is far from blameless, to actually think that Hamas, who has reiterated their desire to see Israel wiped off the face of the world map numerous times, desires to "live side by side" with Israel, is pure fabrication and propaganda. The fact that Carter, an elder statesman and past President, is promoting this kind of drivel, is shameful and disgusting.

    June 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Esco

    Attack first, ask questions later...and this is the result. Those bombings scared the country and its people forever... Now its time to feel remorse for what happened? Genuine peace is the way to go, but i believe under God, we will find endless peace if everyone would just seek Him ^_^

    God Bless

    June 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. LacrosseMom

    Thank you, President Carter. Regardless of all the vile comment from the far–right that are sure to come, I believe that you ARE living what Jesus asks of us, "Love one another, as I have loved you."

    And that you are one of the peacemakers this hurting, desperate world needs.

    "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
    (Matthew 5:8 NAB)

    June 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. Lois

    Carter should be tried for treason. He is an absolute insult to my country, which at the moment is still the USA......

    June 16, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Why is Carter involved in these negotiations?

    June 16, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Gary D.

    He is RIGHT ! How long we taxpayers are going to finance the crazy extremists in Israel, these murderers who refuse peace and only want more and more land ? Enough, enough !!!

    June 16, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Dawn in Pa

    I think he's still trying to bring Peace in the Middle East....

    Your time President Carter is done what thirty years ago, I did not vote at the time for you, I did not know anything about you, and of course I did not want to vote for Jerry Ford, because he pardon Tricky Dick..., I trusted neither of you.

    Are you building homes there also, I think though Homes for Humanity is a good thing. It does however helped alot of Hurricaine victims, to rebuild their lives...

    June 16, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Bill, Houston

    Why doesn't Carter remember when the Palestinians launched rockets into Israel? Or how they elected a terrorist regime who aligns with Iran?
    I know Carter thinks he's doing a good deed, but it seems like he is just going around to all of our enemies and pointing what we've done wrong to them.
    It's a 2-way street.

    June 16, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. PFFT

    Jimmy "The Terrorists Friend" Carter wants more help and aid for his friends Hamas. CNN, why haven't you published the fact that he wants Hamas off the terrorist list?

    June 16, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    Let's see:

    War in Iraq
    War in Afghanistan
    Hunger in every country in the world

    Now we have to make time for this because Israel refuses to abide by the rules they agreed to?

    ENOUGH !!!!

    June 16, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. ET

    President Jimmy Carter has tried and failed, tried and failed, now it's time to stay out. Their problems will never go away, and they don't want it to.

    June 16, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. bsmith171

    where can we send a donation so that jimmy carter remains in gaza?

    June 16, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Adam B from Toronto

    Jimmy Carter is a great and magnanimous man, he genuinely sees the folly of both sides in the conflict. We need more people leading our countries like him.

    June 16, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Peggy - TX

    Former President Carter is a good man and here espouses sound reasoning in the face of tragedy caused by Israel’s irresponsible handling of the money and bombs we negligently continue to give them. I do not believe the hard-liners that control Israel ever wanted peace and the US, in the interest of our national security, needs to immediately stop, 100% stop, all support of either side in this conflict. We have out own problems and can not afford to send $ that way. Let the local countries with greater national interest in the results, sort it out.

    June 16, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. neuroperson

    Carter is a demented old racist and anti-semite.

    I didnt even know Palestinians went to school, I thought they were too busy throwing rocks at Israeli tanks! Maybe the "school" wouldnt have been bombed if it were really a Hamas Terror Camp that was funded by the UN.

    Heres how to achieve peace in the Mideast.
    1) Hamas stop bombing Israel.
    2) Israel stops having to defend itself.
    3) Wow that was incredibly easy.

    June 16, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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