JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli leaders on Tuesday denounced the European Union's top diplomat for linking a deadly shooting attack at a Jewish school in France and Israeli military attacks that kill Palestinian children.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton later said her comments were "grossly distorted."
At a conference on young Palestinian refugees Monday, Ashton spoke of children killed "in all sorts of terrible circumstances," including the shooting in Toulouse, France, and events "happening in Gaza."
Israel's prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister all denounced the linkage. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he was incensed by "the parallel between the pinpoint slaughter of children ... and the Israeli military's defensive surgical strikes against terrorists who use children as live shields."
Gaza militants often operate within residential neighborhoods of the densely populated territory.
In her clarification, Ashton said her remarks referred to "tragedies taking the lives of children and around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza."
Four people, including three young children, were killed in the attack in France.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.