Israel-Gaza conflict: Benjamin Netanyahu blames Hamas for civilian casualties in Gaza Strip

 

Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his country’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip saying Israel will do “what is necessary” to defend itself.

Asked if a ground invasion was imminent, he said Israel would use any means necessary to accomplish its goal of degrading Hamas’s rocket-launching capability. “Whether we’re at the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning I’m not going to tell you that right now,” he told Fox News Sunday.

On Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet met as the air force appeared to be preparing for intensive bombardments of northern Gaza.

But Mr Netanyahu took pains to absolve Israel of responsibility, claiming the blame lay with Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs Gaza. “We are hitting Hamas with increasing strength,” he said. “It must be understood that our enemy hides in mosques, puts weapons stores under hospitals and situates command posts next to kindergartens. The enemy uses the residents of Gaza as a human shield and inflicts disaster on them. The responsibility for harm to the citizens of Gaza lies on the shoulders of Hamas and Israel regrets every harm to them.”

 

He added: “The difference between Israel and Hamas is that we use missiles to defend the citizens of Israel while they use the civilian population to defend the stores of their missiles.”

In the face of the mounting casualty rate, the army has distributed a video with English subtitles of a pilot cancelling an air strike in Gaza because he sees civilians in the target range. “There are people close to our target. It looks like there are people, maybe children,” the pilot says. Another voice can be heard responding: “We won’t attack this target now, let’s go on.”

READ MORE: Human cost of Israel’s onslaught continues to rise
Israeli ‘knock on roof’ missile warning technique revealed in video
Israelis 'cheer as missiles strike targets in Gaza'

Militant groups in Gaza kept up their missile barrages against targets in central and south Israel and sirens sounded in Nahariya near the Lebanese border.

In the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, a 16-year-old boy was seriously wounded by shrapnel and a 50-year-old man was lightly wounded in the same attack, media reported. Eighty-seven missiles were fired at Israel on Sunday, bringing to 896 the number launched since the fighting began, an army spokeswoman said. There have been no Israeli fatalities due in part to the Iron Dome aerial defence system which intercepted two missiles over the Tel Aviv area on Sunday.

The Internal Security Minister, Yitzhak Aharonovich, said at the scene of the Ashkelon attack that no end date has been set for the operation. Regarding the possibility of a ceasefire, he said: “We are not dealing with it now. We are hitting Hamas. We are not counting hours or days. They still have capability. We have to continue hitting them till in the end it finishes.”

READ MORE: When German police let anti-Israeli protesters use their megaphone
Israeli air strike demolishes home for the disabled
Medics struggle to treat Gaza's casualties

But Yossi Beilin, architect of the 1993 Oslo Agreement with the Palestinians, told The Independent last night that Israel should “immediately” give Hamas a chance to stop firing. “Rather than search for mediators, we should declare that we accept the security council’s call for a ceasefire. We should stop the air strikes for 48 hours and if they stop too, then fine. If they do not, we can consider upgrading the air strikes or a ground operation as a last resort.’’

Palestinian families travel to a UN school in Gaza City to seek shelter Palestinian families travel to a UN school in Gaza City to seek shelter “There are more and more victims on the Palestinian side, more difficult pictures and we are paying a high diplomatic price,” Dr Beilin said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Mr Netanyahu by telephone, telling him the US was prepared to broker a ceasefire, a senior State Department official said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project