An Israeli government spokesman is going viral for his gobsmacked reaction to a media question about the value of Palestinian versus Israeli lives based on the Israelis receiving back fewer hostages in a potential swap with Hamas.
Eylon Levy was astonished as Sky News interviewer Kay Burley suggested that because Israel would get back 50 hostages taken by Hamas last month in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners in the agreed-upon temporary cease-fire deal, it placed less value on Palestinian lives.
“I was speaking to a hostage negotiator this morning. He made the comparison between the 50 hostages that Hamas promised to release, as opposed to the 150 prisoners that are Palestinians that Israel has said that it will release,” Burley said. “And he made the comparison between the numbers and the fact that does Israel not think Palestinian lives are valued as highly as Israeli lives?”
Levy’s eyes popped open before he responded, saying, “That is an astonishing accusation.”
“If we could release one prisoner for every one hostage, we would obviously do that. We are operating in horrific circumstances,” he said.
Levy said the Palestinian prisoners who could be released included those who have been convicted of violent attacks, as opposed to the hostages held by Hamas, who comprise innocent civilians.
“Notice the question of proportionality doesn’t interest Palestinian supporters when they are able to get more of their prisoners out,” he said. “It is outrageous to suggest that the fact that we are willing to release prisoners who are convicted of terrorism offenses, more of them than we are getting our own innocent children back, somehow suggests that we don’t care about Palestinian lives? Really, that’s a disgusting accusation.”
Burley appeared unfazed by his response and immediately pivoted to a question about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and whether his career would survive the war. Netanyahu has come under domestic criticism for the security failures around the Oct. 7 terror attack by Hamas, which killed more than 1,200 people and was the single worst slaughter of Jewish people since the Holocaust.
Levy posted the exchange on X, saying it left him “speechless” for a moment. The clip has already received over 2 million impressions on the platform. Another user said that it was life imitating satire, as he had previously quipped that foes of Israel would criticize the cease-fire deal despite Palestinians getting back more people. He predicted they would claim that three Palestinians per Israeli hostage suggested their lives meant less.
At one point during the interview, Levy held up the photo of an orphaned 3-year-old girl who is being held hostage in Gaza, calling the crisis “intensely personal” for the entire State of Israel.
“We are committed to the pledge that we will bring all of them back and there will be nobody left behind,” he said.
Qatar, which is acting as a mediator in the war, said the first group of hostages would be turned back over to Israel on Friday, after the cease-fire begins at midnight tonight, ET. The first group to be freed will include 13 women and children.
Levy said it was a product of the successful Israeli military operation to squeeze Hamas into submission.
Sky News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.