Netanyahu: Israel is responding to Hamas as US would with terrorists
Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu said Sunday that Israel is responding to Hamas militants the same way the US would if it were on the receiving end of a barrage of missile attacks from a terror group in New York or the nation’s capital.
“The fact is they’re sending thousands of rockets on our cities with a specific purpose of murdering our civilians from these places. What would you do if it happened to Washington, to New York? You know damned well what you would do,” Netanyahu told host John Dickerson during an interview Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
Netanyahu was asked about the increasing death toll among Palestinians and Israelis in the escalating violence, and about reports that Egypt brokered a truce that he rejected.
“That’s not what I know. And, frankly, if Hamas thought that they could just fire rockets and then sit back and enjoy immunity. That’s false. We are targeting a terrorist organization that is targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians, using them as human shields,” he said.
At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people wounded.
Eight people in Israel have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier.
Netanyahu said Israeli forces are taking precautions to hit “the terrorists themselves, their rockets, their rocket caches and their arms, but we’re not going to just let them get away with it.”
He said unlike the Hamas militants, Israel does not target civilians.
“That’s the difference between Israel and Hamas. They deliberately target our cities, deliberately target our civilians. They glorify in the death of children and civilians and old people. They’re happy with it. I think they’re happy with any deaths that are caused to them,” Netanyahu said.
We grieve for every non-combatant loss in Gaza, and we grieve for all our civilians who die, we don’t, we’re not happy with it. We try to minimize it,” he said.
As proof, Netanyahu pointed to the destruction of a high-rise building in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli airstrike that houses media outlets including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera — but which he said also contains Hamas militants.
The news agencies were given an hour’s notice on Saturday that the 12-story building would be taken down.
“How is that possible? You see these high-rise towers that are used by Hamas over and over again, they collapse, and no one is killed. Why does that happen? Because we, unlike Hamas, take special precautions to tell people, ‘Leave the building, leave the premises.’ We make sure that everyone is gone, before we bring down those terrorists facilities,” he said.
Israel also gave the Biden administration a heads up that the building containing the offices of the news outlets would be destroyed.
“We share with our American friends, all that intelligence, and here’s the intelligence we had. It’s about Palestinian terrorists, an intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization, housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians,” Netanyahu said. “So it’s a perfectly legitimate target.”
But CBS anchor John Dickerson pressed him again on the high casualty counts among Palestinians, especially in light of Israel’s sophisticated and precision military weapons.
Dickerson noted that some of the criticism is coming from international leaders, as the United Nations Security Council and European Commission ministers are expected to meet on the situation.
“The reason we have these casualties is because Hamas is criminally attacking us from civilian neighborhoods, from schools, from homes, from office buildings. That’s what they’re doing. But we’re taking action, trying to target them with as much great precision as we can. Unfortunately there are occasionally civilian casualties, which we regret,” Netanyahu said.
But when the international community joins together in rebuking Israel, it strengthens Hamas’ resolve, he argued.
“They’re actually encouraging Hamas to continue these attacks because Hamas says that’s great: ‘We’re both killing Israeli civilians and unfortunately some of ours’ – and they’re happy with their own civilian casualties because it gets the international community to focus their attacks on Israel instead of Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“That’s wrong. It’s both wrong and unproductive, because actually what it does is prolong the conflict and escalate and increase the number of casualties,” he explained.