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. Just My Opinion in Texas

    Former President Carter is a bitter old crank who hates Israel almost as much as the Palestinians do. His opinions, while he is perfectly entitled to them, are simply wrong.

    Proof of what I say is that some months back (Within the past year.), several staffers at his library quite because of his frequent rants against Israel at the library and the staffers viewed said rants as unseemly.

    As to the destruction in Gaza ... Israel would never have lifted a finger against it had Hamas not hidden behind the skirts of the women in Gaza to launch their missles against Israel.

    If an enemy lauches weapons against a sovereign nation, said nation is FULLY entitled to defend itself. Period.

    June 16, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. S Callahan

    Oh boy..here it goes.
    CNN can attest by my past blogs I have respect for former President Jimmy Carter.....but....this comment is instigative....I think for it to be fair the former Presdient needs to also take a trip to Israel and visit the victims of bombings there. This is why the world MUST find a peaceful solution. There is no good for acts of this kind for any side.

    June 16, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Tom L

    Ummm, Mr. Carter, Hamas violently overtook the Gaza Strip and have been firing bombs into Israel every day. They also have in their charter that they won't recognize Israel. Any chance these might be just two of the thousands of reasons that the rest of the world sees Hamas for what it is...a bunch of terrorists and killers?

    June 16, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. adele

    I thought I submitted this comment already : Enough, enough. This tax payer refuses to have her taxes go to support crazy extremists not interested in peace but in land grabbing.

    June 16, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. James Dadas

    Great to know that a former American President can see for himself as to who is the real terrorist here; Palestinains or Israelis. I think the time has come for the American to do what they did to Irap when they invaded Kewait and after. Remove Israel by Force because that the only langauge they speak. Otherwise Israel is going to commit more war crimes against people and huminity. If not who can really blames Iran for building a Nucear bomb....go for it Iran all the best.

    June 16, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. wally

    Please go away! I'm from Georgia and am embarrassed everytime this man says something. One of Georgia's claims to fame...a president worst than Bush.

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. David S. Robins

    Bravo Jimmy Carter for pointing out the ruthless savagery of Israel's racist assault on the Gaza strip last year.

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Paul from Kissimmee

    Is Jimmy Carter for real?I was too young when he was President to understand how soft his stance really was against against our enemies. Why doesn't he tell them that if they don't want to go through that again, don't mortar Israel?

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. chicago4obama

    What would Carter do if Mexico shot 7,000 rockets into Georgia. Remember this were the same people celebrating in the streets after the Towers were hit and 3,000 Americans died. What an idiot.

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Obama Victim

    wrong peanut boy.......I am not responsible.....Muslim terrorits lobbing explosives into Israel..as well as Mulim homicide bombers are responsible............I am proud that our F-16's are wasting these Muslim thugs

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. wally

    Correction...that shoud not have read "worst" than Bush, but rather, "worse than Bush" haha.

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. JK

    What"s the problem now, Jimmy? Gaza just represents more places for you and Habitat for Humanity to build more houses. Get busy with your hammer and stop opening your yap.

    June 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. donttreadonme

    Great job Jimmy please link us to everything that happens in the middle east. Osama couldn’t have said it better.
    “Israel aided by the Zionist Americans attacked an innocent school in peaceful Palestine.”

    Does Jimmy know that Hamas wasn’t using the school to make/hide weapons or hiding Hamas leaders and terrorists?

    Irresponsible statements by libs have fueled the fire against the US!

    June 16, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Jim

    Senility has set in. Maybe he should move there and help his terrorist friends. He can build them some houses, and plant peanuts.

    June 16, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Rob

    Gee, starting 4 years from now Obama can join Carter in his quest to sell out the US to terrorists.

    Carter is a joke to everything decent. He did NOTHING as a president, and is now doing a bang up job as a terrorist-appeaser.

    Hmmmm, guess we know who's lead Obama's following.

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

    I hope all Americans can see what a traitor to this country and Isreal Carter is. Unfortunatly for us, our current president isn't much better.

    June 16, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Dave

    Jimmy Carter has been right for a long time. You can't get to peace through war.

    June 16, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Rush Von Brunn

    Jimmy would have made a much better President if the rightwing Ronald Raygun Republicans and big business hadnt sabataged his Presidency.

    June 16, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Rob

    Is Carter for real? Blaming everyone except the Palestinians? Chumming around with Hamas? I was only 11 when Carter was elected President but I wish I was older so I could of voted for Ford. He failed as President and still hasn't a clue.

    June 16, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. Mark

    Shame on you Mr. Carter. You're too old, you need to retire and stop fueling the fire, since you seem to have lost your ability to promote peace. What a shame.

    June 16, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. B.H.

    You would think that the Israelis would understand brutality from their own past. They have shown in there extreme overreaction in the Gaza that they are willing to overlook their own brutality to others as well !

    June 16, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. donttreadonme

    This is the most irresponsible garbage I have ever heard. Jimmy statements will be used as a recruitment tool for Islamic terrorists around the world. Dems why don't you just admit that you are siding with Hamas and the Palestinians in this conflict!

    Like it or not Israel has a right to defend themselves.

    June 16, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Eugene

    Thank you, President Carter. It's great to see a former president be the conscience for our country.

    June 16, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Ajooba

    Kudoos to Carter for speaking the truth that so many have the guts not to say.

    I'm also not suprised that this news didn't make the headlines on CNN. What a shame.

    June 16, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    jimmy carters a joke! nothing else needs to be said

    June 16, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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