The Israeli ambassador to the US has held a question and answer session on Twitter in which he said Israel had “the right” to carry out missile strikes on hospitals if it suspects Hamas of using them as rocket launching sites.
Gaza health officials said today that the Palestinian death toll had risen to 222, with 1,670 wounded, and that the majority of these were civilians.
Writing on Twitter, Ron Dermer addressed this issue with his first answer, saying that Israel gave multiple warnings - “calls, texts, leaflets” – for people to evacuate military targets. “We're doing everything to keep civilians out of harm's way,” he said.
Yesterday saw Israel come in for particular criticism after the al-Wafa hospital, which cares for patients suffering from brain and spine trauma, was damaged by the Israeli air offensive.
Asked if Israel “has the right to defend itself by bombing hospitals”, Dermer said: “Actually, if you turn your hospital into a command post & missile launching site you do. But Israel hasn't.
“Israel cares more about Pal civilians in Gaza than Hamas,” he continued. “We try to get them out of harm’s way. They put them in harm's way.”
Speaking to a user who asked when Israel will “stop violating international law”, the ambassador said: “You should learn the rules of war. No country in history has more rigorously upheld international law when its homeland under attack.”
And in a reference to the acronym WWJD (“what would Jesus do?”), the diplomat implied that it was highly unlikely the US would use less force than Israel has. “Ask yourself the WWAD question,” he wrote. “What would America do if 200+ millions were sitting in bomb shelters as rockets were fired?”
After fielding questions for around an hour, Dermer signed off: “Thanks everyone for those softballs. Looking forward to some even tougher questions next time.”
While the ambassador engaged some of Israel’s critics online, an attempt to secure a ceasefire in the tumultuous region was apparently ended today by a rocket fired from Gaza which, according to Israeli security officials, struck the city of Ashkelon.
Earlier, Israeli security forces said Palestinian militants fired at least three mortar shells from Gaza two hours after the humanitarian ceasefire agreed by both sides to allow Gaza residents to stock up on supplies went into effect.
It comes as both Israel's foreign minister and Hamas denied reports that a comprehensive truce agreement has been reached between Israel and Gaza, instead saying talks in Egypt were ongoing.
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