Israel-Gaza conflict: Netanyahu says Hamas using rising death toll to make Israel look bad

PM says Hamas seeks to use 'telegenically dead Palestinians' for its cause

Jerusalem

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed criticism of spiralling Palestinian civilian fatalities in Gaza, saying Israel tries to avoid them but that Hamas seeks to use “telegenically dead Palestinians” for its cause.

Speaking to CNN on the 13th and bloodiest day yet of Operation Protective Edge, which began with airstrikes but morphed into a ground operation last Thursday, Mr Netanyahu did not directly answer when asked whether Israel is headed towards an all-out reoccupation of the Gaza Strip. Instead, he said Israel would take “whatever action is necessary” to halt Hamas rocket attacks against Israel

“I support taking whatever action is necessary to stop this insane situation,” he said. “Nobody wants to go to excessive military plans, but what is happening here is excessive.”

The premier said all Palestinian civilian casualties are unintended and regretted by the Israeli army, but accused Hamas of wanting to “pile up as many civilian dead as they can” to make Israel look bad. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”

Mr Netanyahu said the army’s mission of destroying Hamas infiltration tunnels – the stated purpose of the ground campaign – is “progressing fairly quickly”.

Video: 'This is the terrorism of the state of Israel'

But news reports said later that 13 soldiers had been killed in the Gaza fighting.

Menachem Klein, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University, said the ground operation’s goal is expanding from tunnel searches to “damaging the Hamas armed wing seriously” He predicts further escalation. “It means taking over more parts of Gaza City and a strip in southern Gaza and killing the maximum number of Hamas fighters. For the Gaza civilians this is a great tragedy.”

Mr Klein added: “There is no way Israel can win here. Hamas can achieve something just by surviving and causing casualties to the Israel Defence Forces. The best thing to do is stop it now and go for a comprehensive ceasefire.’’

Hamas kept up its rocket barrages of Israeli targets on Sunday, which have killed two people.

Diplomatic efforts were being stepped up, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon due to meet moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar for talks on devising a ceasefire. US Secretary of State John Kerry today plans to visit Egypt, which put forward a ceasefire proposal last week that was rejected by Hamas. Mr Kerry, caught speaking to an aide on an open microphone, criticised the scope of the Israeli military campaign, saying sarcastically: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation."

Ynet news agency said on Sunday that the 13 soldiers’ deaths came “in various incidents" during the Gaza fighting, which began 13 days ago with Israeli aerial bombardments, with the stated aim of stopping cross-border rocket fire by Hamas.

Another five Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza on Friday and Saturday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea