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Kerry Blasts Israel in Hot Mic Moment

Secretary of State reacts unfavorably to news from Shejaiya and vows to head to Israel 'tonight.'
By Gil Ronen and AFP
First Publish: 7/20/2014, 4:43 PM

In an unusual moment during Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace presented Secretary of State John Kerry with video recorded before he came on air.

Wallace presented the segment as being in reference to civilians killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip, writes the Washington Post. "While you were on camera and while on microphone," Wallace said, "you spoke to one of your top aides between the interviews about the situation in Israel." He then played what the network had recorded. In the clip, Kerry is holding a cellphone conversation with an unidentified person, but Kerry's comments are clear.

"It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," he says, then repeats it. "Hell of a pinpoint operation." This is an apparent reference to Israel's insistence that its incursion into the region would be limited. The conversation continues, and Kerry then says, "We've got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight." He then calls it "crazy" to be "sitting around."

"When you said it's a hell of a pinpoint operation," Wallace asked, are you "upset that the Israelis are going too far?"

"It's very difficult in these situations," Kerry said, repeating that the United States supports Israel's right to defend itself. He then explained his comments by saying, "I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does in respect to young children and civilians."

On CBS, Kerry told Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer that he is "planning to go" to Israel, "and probably very shortly."

While his hot mic moment sounded an unfavorable note toward Israel, his on-camera statements were quite different. Kerry Sunday blamed Hamas for the continuation of the conflict in Gaza, saying the Islamic terrorists were refusing all ceasefire efforts.

"Israel is under siege by a terrorist organization that has seen fit to dig tunnels and come through those tunnels with handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs, prepared to try to capture Israeli citizens and take them back to hold them hostage," Kerry told CNN.

"No country could sit by and not take steps to try to deal with people who are sending thousands of rockets your way."

"We're working on the idea of a ceasefire," Kerry revealed, adding that President Barack Obama was to speak later Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"They've been offered a ceasefire and they've refused to take the ceasefire," Kerry told ABC television, adding that Hamas has "stubbornly" refused efforts to defuse the conflict "even though Egypt and others have called for that ceasefire."

By its actions Hamas had "invited further actions" by the Israelis to stop the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, Kerry said.

"It's ugly, obviously, war is ugly. And bad things are going to happen. But they need to recognize their own responsibility," he added, referring to Hamas.

He urged Hamas to "be responsible and accept... a multilateral ceasefire without conditions."

More than 60 Palestinians were killed Sunday as Israeli forces pounded northern Gaza, sending thousands more fleeing in terror in the deadliest assault on the enclave in five years.

Sunday's bloody toll prompted urgent efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to broker a temporary ceasefire to allow paramedics to evacuate the dead and wounded in a deal accepted by both sides.

Blitzing the Sunday television talk shows, Kerry said he was planning to meet up with UN chief Ban Ki-moon who is headed to the Middle East to lend his efforts to seeking a truce.