Hidden Recording Shows Netanyahu Saying 'We Must Hit the Palestinians Hard'?

The 2001 recording allegedly documents the Israeli prime minister bragging about manipulating the Oslo peace process.

Published May 2, 2024

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In early 2024, amid growing resistance to American military support for Israel in its campaign against Hamas in Gaza, a purported hidden-camera video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking candidly in 2001 about aggressive military action against Palestinians went viral. That video was often shared with identical copy-and-pasted text (copypasta) as its purported translation:


"We must hit the Palestinians hard…. And the world will not say anything. The world will say that we "We [sic] are defending, we will achieve this thanks to the help of the United States, which can easily impose the narrative."

The video itself is real — it was first shown as part of a 2010 special on the Israeli news program "This Week with Miki Rosenthal." While the copy-and-pasted words accurately represent a portion of the video, this text, as a whole, was neither an accurate translation nor a factual paraphrase of Netanyahu's remarks.

Netanyahu did say, of Palestinians, that "we must beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it's unbearable." Netanyahu also suggested that American foreign policy was "easily moved." He did not, however, explicitly suggest using self-defense as a means to achieve aggressive military action or that the United States would help push that narrative.

The chief significance of the video, as described in a 2010 article for Tablet, was that it showed Netanyahu bragging "of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery." In this piece, Snopes explains the historical context behind this video and shows why the viral translation is partially inaccurate.

The Context

The almost six-minute segment stems from video filmed in 2001, following Netanyahu's first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999. It follows him during a visit to the West Bank settlement of Ofra to meet with the family of a man killed in a Palestinian shooting, as described in 2010 by the London-based, Middle East-focused outlet The National:

The film was shot, apparently without Mr Netanyahu's knowledge, nine years ago, when the government of Ariel Sharon had started reinvading the main cities of the West Bank to crush Palestinian resistance in the early stages of the second intifada.

At the time Mr Netanyahu had taken a short break from politics but was soon to join Mr Sharon's government as finance minister. On a visit to a home in the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank to pay condolences to the family of a man killed in a Palestinian shooting attack, he makes a series of unguarded admissions about his first period as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999.

The second intifada refers to a period of increased violence between Palestinians and Israelis from 2000 to 2005 following the failure of peace negotiations and the reoccupation of Palestinian lands by Israeli troops.

Before this period, ongoing efforts at peace had been made under the Oslo Accords — a framework that allowed for negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a group internationally recognized as representing the interests of the Palestinian people.

One of the major hurdles in that process, which began in 1993, concerned Israel's military occupation of Hebron — a significant city with a large Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Under Netanyahu's predecessor Yitzhak Rabin, Israel agreed in 1995 to remove Israeli troops from Hebron in phases subject to certain terms and conditions.

Israel Can 'Hit Palestinians Hard' Because US Policy Can 'Easily' Be Moved

When Netanyahu took power in 1996, he told then-U.S. President Bill Clinton that he would honor the Hebron agreement reached under the previous administration. In the video, however, Netanyahu stated (as translated by The National) that the correct policy toward Palestinians should be to hit them "hard" with blows "that are so painful the price will be too heavy to be borne," thus rendering them more amenable to Israeli demands.

In the video, one of Netanyahu's hosts asked whether the former prime minister would fear the response from America with such a move. Netanyahu shrugged off the notion that America would do anything but support Israel, stating that America is something that "can easily be moved."

To make this point forcefully, Netanyahu continued by bragging about having manipulated Clinton and used deceptive tactics to intentionally destroy the Oslo peace process and the Hebron agreement, as reported in 2010 by The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler:

Netanyahu … bragged how he undercut the peace process when he was prime minister during the Clinton administration. "They asked me before the election if I'd honor [the Oslo Accords]," he said.

"I said I would, but … I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. … The entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone."

Netanyahu raised this anecdote and explained to those gathered around him that "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction."

'The World Will Say We Are Defending'

The portion of the translation attributing the words "the world will say that we are defending, we will achieve this thanks to the help of the United States, which can easily impose the narrative" to Netanyahu is not a paraphrase of anything approaching a direct quote from Netanyahu. Instead, these words appear to paraphrase reporting about the video.

Reporting that appeared in The National described the hidden-camera video of Netanyahu this way:

Seated on a sofa in the house, he tells the family that he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process.

He dismisses the US as "easily moved to the right direction" and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel "absurd". He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel's harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats.

The copypasta appears to be sourced from that reporting, but attributing that coverage directly to Netanyahu is misleading and detracts from the broader significance of the video: that it appeared to show Netanyahu openly stating his belief that he could manipulate American foreign policy and that he was willing to negotiate in bad faith.

The video has been used during each of the last three American presidencies by those who are cynical of American attempts to negotiate with, or broker peace between, Israel and the Palestinian people.


Adam, Ali. "Palestinian Intifada: How Israel Orchestrated a Bloody Takeover." Al Jazeera, Accessed 30 Apr. 2024.

Cook, Jonathan. "Netanyahu Admits on Video He Deceived US to Destroy Oslo Accord." The National, 18 July 2010,

JFJFP. Accessed 30 Apr. 2024.

Kessler, Glenn. "Netanyahu: 'America Is a Thing You Can Move Very Easily.'" Washington Post, 16 July 2010,

Leibovitz, Liel. "Fibi Netanyahu." Tablet Magazine, 15 July 2010,

Levy, Gideon. "Tricky Bibi." Haaretz, 15 July 2010. Haaretz,

Palestine Diary. Tricky Netanyahu: I Deceived the US to Destroy Oslo Accords. English Subtitles. 2010. YouTube,

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.