Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that blame for civilian casualties should lie with Hamas but maintained Israel is committed to protecting civilians.
“I think any civilian loss is a tragedy … and the blame should be placed squarely on Hamas,” Netanyahu said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash.
“Because it prevents them from leaving the war zone sometimes at gunpoint, it’s fired on the safe zone, the safe corridor that we enacted, the other day, to prevent Palestinians from leaving harm’s way. It puts rockets inside the schools, hospitals. It has tunnels below children’s beds,” Netanyahu continued. “This is what we’re dealing with.”
Netanyahu’s remarks come in response to a question about Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments on Friday that “much more” needs to be done to protect civilians in Gaza. In New Delhi, Blinken said “far too many” Palestinians have died in the conflict with Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization.
When pressed by Bash on whether Israel was doing everything possible to take civilian lives into consideration, Netanyahu insisted they were.
“Yes, yes, Dana and more than that, and more than that,” he said. “We’re trying to minimize civilian casualties as a result of a ground action.”
“I think the number of civilian casualties is actually being reduced because people are heeding our calls to leave the area, and defying Hamas’s attempt to keep them there. And we’ll do everything in our power to do that,” he added.
The latest conflict in the region started after Hamas launched a surprise attack on the southern border of Israel, killing 1,400 civilians and taking about 240 hostages. Israel has responded with a barrage of airstrikes, killing more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to estimates from the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and retrieve the hostages. Netanyahu reiterated his position on Sunday that there would be no ceasefire until the hostages were freed.
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