A Sky News interview with an Israeli spokesperson has gone viral online after one of its anchors faced widespread ridicule for questioning if Israel values Palestinian lives less based on the higher number of Palestinian security prisoners being released compared to hostages being freed by Hamas in Gaza.
On Thursday, Sky News host Kay Burley pointed to Israel’s willingness to free three terrorists for every Israeli hostage, before posing her bizarre question to Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy.
“I was talking to a hostage negotiator this morning [and] he made the comparison between the 50 hostages that Hamas has promised to release, as opposed to the 150 prisoners that are Palestinians that Israel has said that it will release,” she stated.
“And he made the comparison between the numbers and the fact that ‘Does Israel not think that Palestinian lives are not valued as highly as Israeli lives?’” she asked, referencing Israel’s 3:1 swap ratio.
The first question that left me speechless (but only for a second): pic.twitter.com/P4Bh0SKtl9
— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) November 23, 2023
In response, Levy remains silent for a moment, appearing shocked and speechless by the British anchor’s implication that Israel was somehow being racist by having to release more terrorists in return for less hostages.
“That is an astonishing accusation,” he exclaimed. “If we could release one prisoner for every one hostage, we would obviously do that.”
“We’re operating in horrific circumstances. We’re not choosing to release these prisoners who have blood on their hands,” he added. “We are talking about people who have been convicted of stabbing and shooting attacks.”
Notice the question of proportionality doesn’t interest Palestinian supporters when they’re able to get more of their prisoners out. But really, 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,” he added.
Many took to social media to weigh in on the exchange, which has garnered over millions views as of Sunday morning.
“Good grief. Just look at this question,” wrote political analyst Brit Hume.
Good grief. Just look at this question. https://t.co/92XlGFmy0W
— Brit Hume (@brithume) November 23, 2023
“Doesn’t matter what kind of deranged ‘hostage negotiator’ she was speaking to, to raise this on national television shows a shameful level of malignancy towards Israel,” wrote former commander of British forces in Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp.
Doesn’t matter what kind of deranged “hostage negotiator” she was speaking to, to raise this on national television shows a shameful level of malignancy towards Israel. pic.twitter.com/sQU1Zwp30q
— Rɪᴄʜᴀʀᴅ Kᴇᴍᴘ ⋁ (@COLRICHARDKEMP) November 23, 2023
“The vitriol with which SKY interviews Israeli representatives is extraordinary when you compare against the softly softly approach they use for the terrorists,” wrote Lance Forman, a former Brexit Party member of the European Parliament.
“Very clear whose side the journalists are on,” he added,
The vitriol with which SKY interviews Israeli representatives is extraordinary when you compare against the softly softly approach they use for the terrorists. Very clear whose side the journalists are on.
— Lance Forman (@LanceForman) November 24, 2023
“The British press are institutionally racist towards Jewish people,” wrote Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox.
The British press are institutionally racist towards Jewish people. https://t.co/vhw5S18ZKH
— Laurence Fox (@LozzaFox) November 23, 2023
“Maybe we need to shut down the British media until we can figure out what’s going on with people like her,” wrote political commentator Ian Miles Cheong.
Maybe we need to shut down the British media until we can figure out what’s going on with people like her.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 23, 2023
“I’m sorry @KayBurley, but are you not utterly embarrassed for asking such astonishing question?” asked international human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky.
I’m sorry @KayBurley, but are you not utterly embarrassed for asking such astonishing question? https://t.co/DUvlRGfJX5
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) November 23, 2023
“She’s actually accusing Israel of valuing Palestinian lives less than Israeli lives because they’re releasing 150 prisoners and only getting 50 hostages and it’s not even,” wrote Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik.
“Is she brain dead? You literally can’t make this up,” she added.
She’s actually accusing Israel of valuing Palestinian lives less than Israeli lives because they’re releasing 150 prisoners and only getting 50 hostages and it’s not even. Is she brain dead? You literally can’t make this up. https://t.co/YKUneVYl25
— Chaya Raichik (@ChayaRaichik10) November 23, 2023
“Ideology turns people into morons,” wrote reporter Miranda Devine.
Ideology turns people into morons https://t.co/g1couxdfmT
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) November 24, 2023
Levy’s raised eyebrows have since become a widespread meme online.
This is the correct reaction to the media simping for Hamas https://t.co/4UTtpr5Nt3 pic.twitter.com/MoxkvUPL37
— Kiyah Willis (@kiyahwillis) November 24, 2023
Burley was later criticized for her demeanor in a clip that shows her rolling her eyes at the mention of Israeli hostages.
Are we preparing for an election?
A Chancellor, former Chancellor and would-be Chancellor on the show
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) November 23, 2023
She has since responded to the segment, claiming that Sky News often puts “one side of an argument to a guest so they can offer a counterclaim.”
“Yesterday, I raised a controversial view from an earlier guest to allow another to respond,” she added. “Each morning we’re dedicated to presenting fairly the news of this war.”
“Disgraceful,” wrote author and social media influencer Oli London. “If you really meant the apology you wouldn’t have mocked hostages today and [shown] disdain to them.”
If you really meant the apology you wouldn’t have mocked hostages today and showing disdain to them https://t.co/E9jBbICfTd
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) November 24, 2023
Israel has a long history of engaging in prisoner exchanges with various terror groups holding its citizens hostage, often resulting in lopsided deals, the most notable of these being the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011.
Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was captured by Hamas in 2006 and held for over five years. In exchange for his release, Israel agreed to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted of serious offenses, including planning and executing terror attacks.
In fact, the release of terrorists in prisoner exchanges has led to their re-engaging in terrorist activities once freed.
A notable example is Yahya Sinwar, released in the 2011 Shalit exchange. Sinwar, who had a significant role in Hamas’ military wing, became a prominent leader in the terror organization. His involvement and influence within Hamas reportedly extended to orchestrating major terror attacks, including the October 7 massacre and the taking of more hostages, over which he now leads the current negotiations for their release.
Israel’s disproportionate prisoner exchanges, such as the Shalit deal, stem from a high societal value placed on individual lives, negotiating leverage of captors, complex political and strategic considerations, and intense public and family pressure to secure the return of hostages.
The matter comes as the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas is set to release a third group of Israeli hostages in exchange for jailed Palestinian terrorists in a temporary pause brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.
Hamas abducted more than 240 people, mostly Israeli civilians, amidst its October 7 massacre in Israel — the deadliest against Jewish people since the Nazi Holocaust — which saw the torture, rape, execution, and immolation of scores of Israeli men, women and children.
The multi-pronged attack entailed some 3,000 terrorists bursting into Israel by land, sea, and air and gunning down participants at an outdoor music festival while others went door to door hunting for Jews in local towns who were then subject to unspeakable brutality, leaving over 1,200 dead inside the Jewish state, and over 5,300 more wounded.
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