A senior Israeli politician warned that Palestinians firing rockets from Gaza into Israel will be punished with a "bigger holocaust" from Israeli armed forces, according to the Telegraph.
Matan Vilnai, deputy defense minister, used the term "shoah" during an interview on Army Radio, a Hebrew word for holocaust typically only reserved in Israel to describe the Nazi holocaust of Jews during World War II.
"The more qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves," said Vilnai.
The Israeli government quickly dismissed Vilani's use of the word, putting out a statement later which said, "Mr. Vilani was meaning 'disaster.' He did not mean to many any allusion to the genocide."Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai used the Hebrew phrase that included the term 'shoah' in the sense of a disaster or a catastrophe, and not in the sense of a holocaust," said Arye Mekel, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman.
But that did little to assauge Palestinians, who responded negatively to the use of the term. In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, "We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people."
Typically, are quick to dismiss any comparison between the Holocaust and the Palestinian occupation, which is what makes the comment so notable. Whether or not Vilani actually meant to reference the holocaust, or meant the term in the sense of a catastrophe, is difficult to know. Still, it's a reflection of the bitter and polarized atmosphere which categories both sides of this conflict, particularly in light of the recent escalation.
For further proof, just look to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's comments on Monday in which he categorized Israel as a "terrorist state."
"I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts," he said.
Although Israeli diplomats are reporedly working on a cease-fire agreement in Egypt, there are few signs of the conflict letting up anytime soon. And the war on words will continue along with the violence.
Khaled Meshal, the top leader of Hamas, dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza on Monday. If Israel takes the bait, expect a long and bitter conflict reminiscent of the 2008 Gaza war.