Netanyahu: 'Hamas Wants Civilian Deaths in Gaza for PR Fodder'
Making a forceful defense of Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the terrorist organization of committing war crimes by targeting civilians and using the people of Gaza as human shields.
Netanyahu says every civilian casualty is "a tragedy of Hamas' own making," laying out examples of terrorists firing rockets from near schools and digging "terror tunnels" right under homes.
"Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty. Every single one. We do not target them. We do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas. Our enemy are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. And we've taken extraordinary circumstances and 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," said Netanyahu, accusing Hamas of seeking civilian deaths to be used as "P.R. fodder."
Netanyahu argued that "a full 90 percent" of the deaths in this conflict could have been avoided if Hamas had accepted a cease-fire weeks ago. He said Israel agreed to the terms of the current truce weeks ago, but Hamas refused.
Watch his full remarks above, and read more below on the cease-fire from FoxNews.com:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended a month of war was holding for a second day Wednesday, ahead of negotiations in Cairo on a long-term truce and a broader deal for the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.
In the coming days, Egyptian mediators are to shuttle between delegations from both sides to try to work out a deal. The Palestinian delegation is composed of negotiators from all major factions, including Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza. Names of those in the Israeli team have not been disclosed.
Some details have emerged about the negotiating points of Hamas, including an internationally funded reconstruction of the coastal strip that would be overseen by a Palestinian unity government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, Norway is organizing a donor conference and the Western-backed Abbas is expected to take the lead in overseeing the rebuilding in the coastal territory, which his Fatah movement lost to Hamas in 2007. International Mideast envoy Tony Blair, who is also involved in arranging the conference, was in Cairo and was to meet with Egypt's foreign minister and Arab League officials on Wednesday.
The cease-fire is the longest lull in a war that has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians. Israel has lost 67 people, including three civilians.