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Netanyahu: Hamas’ Human Shield Strategy Is a Test for the Civilized World (Prime Minister’s Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a press conference on Wednesday:
- The goal of Operation Protective Edge was to protect Israeli civilians. That means to protect our people from 3,500 rockets that Hamas and the other terrorist groups have fired on our cities, on our towns, on our civilians, on our children in the last month. The goal of this operation was to protect our people from the threat of terror tunnels built to send death squads into Israel, to commit terrorist atrocities against Israel’s civilians, to kidnap and to kill.
- Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty. We do not target them; we do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas and the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. We’ve taken extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties.
- The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas – a tyrannical and fanatical terror group that relishes civilian casualties. They want civilian casualties. They use them as PR fodder. Indeed Hamas has adopted a strategy that abuses and sacrifices Gaza’s civilians. They use them as human shields; they endanger them and deliberately increase the death toll. They fire their rockets at Israel from schools, from hospitals, from mosques.
- This is a testing period now. Can a terrorist organization fire thousands of rockets at cities of a democracy? Can a terrorist organization embed itself in civilian areas? Can it dig terror tunnels from civilian areas? Can it do so with impunity because it counts on the victimized country to respond as it must, as any country would, and then be blamed for it? Can we accept a situation in which the terrorists would be exonerated and the victims accused? The test is for the civilized world itself, how it is able to defend itself.
- Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. At that time, the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal. That means that a full 90% of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now.
- Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza’s general demilitarization.