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Israel: Hamas 'committing a double war crime'


08-08-2014 17:22 BJT

By CCTV correspondent Roee Ruttenberg

Israeli leaders insist Hamas should be held accountable for the devastation in Gaza.

Israel says it is aware of the extent of the damage in Gaza. But amid growing accusations of potential war crimes, its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on Thursday: his military played by the rules. Netanyahu showed Peter Maurer, the president of the International Red Cross, images, the Israeli leader says, of rockets placed by Hamas next to a playground, and in a cemetery, in Gaza.

"Hamas is committing a double war crime. It is both targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians, including U.N. facilities, which are not only rocket storage sites but rocket launching sites and mortar launching sites. So, Israel has every right to defend itself and we are obeying the rules of war and the international code and those who are responsible for all these tragic civilian deaths are Hamas," said Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli PM.

Palestinians have denied the accusations ... and say: it’s a tactic to divert attention away from Israel’s actions. But Israel insists: Hamas should be held accountable. Netanyahu’s finance minister, Yair Lapid, on Thursday said Israel would help foot the bill to rebuild Gaza ... but only in exchange for the de-arming of Hamas.

"We are in the diplomatic stage and we are focusing, and the focus should be on rehabilitation for demilitarization. The world must pressure Hamas to give up their rockets in order to rebuild Gaza as a peaceful place," said Yair Lapid, Israeli FM.

But Lapid added that Israel’s military will remain ready to respond, if needed.

"We say to them clearly, ’don’t test us.’ The IDF is ready, the Israeli air force is ready, and we will respond to fire with very heavy fire," Lapid said.

Netanyahu has said: for now, they troops - on Israel’s side of the Gaza border - aren’t going anywhere.

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