Netanyahu: We Cannot Give our Attackers Immunity
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond Thursday, thanking Britain for its support and stressing the need to understand Israel's struggle to defend itself in light of the UK's own history.
"You, as a representative of the UK, of Britain, have a special understanding - at least, a historical understanding - of what we're undergoing," Netanyahu began. "There's only been one other instance when a democracy was rocketed and pelleted by projectiles of death, and that's Britain during World War Two."
"Israel is undergoing a similar bombardment now," he noted. "We are responding, in our own way, by targeting the rocketeers and seeking to ferret out these terrorists, who are firing behind civilians at our civilians."
"This is a double war crime," he continued. "And naturally, it's made more difficult for us to fight this criminality. As I've just shown you, the terrorists are firing rockets from schools, from mosques, from hospitals, heavily at civilian populations."
"We have to try, and are doing our best, to minimize civilian casualties, but we cannot give our attackers immunity," he added. "We seek, as best as we can, to target them - but all the civilian deaths that are there - and we regret each one of them - are the responsibility of Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad terrorists that are in league with them."
UNHRC 'a travesty'
Netanyahu then took a stab at the United Nations Human Right's Council (UNHRC)'s condemnations of Israel. The decision to launch an inquiry was made shortly after UNHRC chief Navi Pillay said that there is a "strong possibility" that Israel was violating international law through Operation Protective Edge.
"This use of human shields is extraordinarily cynical, grotesque, it's inhumane - but what is equally grotesque is that Israel was condemned in the Human Rights Council," he noted. "It's a travesty of justice, it's a travesty of fairness, it's a travesty of common sense, it's a travesty of truth."
"It will not prevent us from continuing to act to defend our people, to protect against rocket attacks, and to dismantle the vast terror tunnel network that we have seen that is geared to penetrate our territory," he added.
Netanyahu also thanked the UK for its support of Israel over the past several days, as well as the fact that British Airways, the UK's national carrier, continued to fly to Israel despite a bandwagon of bans.
"I thank you for keeping your moral focus and your moral clarity - we shall need it in the days ahead," he concluded.
'Israel has the right to defend itself'
Hammond responded by clarifying the UK's unwavering support for Israel's need to defend itself.
"Britain has been very clear, I've been very clear, Prime Minister [David] Cameron has been very clear that this current cycle of violence was triggered by Hamas firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns and cities, indiscriminately and in breach of international humanitarian law," he began.
"Britain has also been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens."
Hammond then expressed, however, "grave concern" for the "level of civilian casualties" and said that Britain wants to see a ceasefire "quickly agreed."
"We welcomed the earlier cease-fire proposal by Egypt, and we are grateful to you, Prime Minister, for your immediate agreement to it," he added, "and we are disappointed that Hamas has apparently, once again, rejected ceasefire proposals."