Israeli prime minister Benjamin netanyahu. He joins us from tel-aviv this morning. Mr. Prime minister, thank you for joining us. We have seen the heaviest fightifight ING yet today. The latest... See More
Israeli prime minister Benjamin netanyahu. He joins us from tel-aviv this morning. Mr. Prime minister, thank you for joining us. We have seen the heaviest fightifight ING yet today. The latest operation being called a massacre by the Palestinians. Your response? We regret civilian deaths. Those lay at hamas' door. Hamas is deliberately targeting our civilians. They have fired 2,000 rockets at Israel's cities. 75% of our population has to be in bomb shelter alert. Of 60 seconds or 90 seconds. They're digging these terror tunnels from gaza. From homes in gaza to penetrate and infiltrate Israeli territory. They've emerged there and killed Israelis and run back or tried to run back into their territory. We have tried to take action. What hamas is doing is embedding its rocketeers, these tunnels, these terror tunnels in homes, in hospitals, in schools. When we take action, as targeted as we can, they then use their civilians as human shields. So hamas is both targeting civilians and they are hiding behind civilians. That is a double war crime. Therefore, all civilian deaths -- all civilian deaths, as regrettable as they are, fall on their shoulders. As the civilian casualties climb, are you worried this will be seen by many in the world as an exercise in collective punishment and that the world will turn against Israel? They'll always look at the last reel of the movie. They won't see that the forces are coming in to try to ferret out the rocketeers. Trying to shut the tunnels at their source. And of course, they get hit from the houses there. By hamas and islamic jihad fire. The interesting thing is this. We have asked the civilian population, the people in gaza who are not our enemy. They are hostages of hamas. We have asked them, please leave. We text messages to them. We call them up with cell phones. Drop leaflets. Hamas says, stay. They want them -- Israel is hitting from all sides. The north, the east, and the west. Where can they go? Oh, no. They have -- they have paths to leave. That's not an issue. They have plenty of exit points. They know it. Hamas is saying, don't use them. Hamas wants to kill civilians on 'tis really side. And the amazing grotesque and gruesome fact is they want to have as many civilians killed on the Palestinian side because it gets you to ask me these questions. Our goal is not to hurt a single individual, a single civilian. They're doing a double war crime. It should be condemned with the most forceful action. They're like Isis, like Al Qaeda, like hezbollah. And the other Iranian proxies. They don't give a whit about the Palestinians. All they want is more and more civilian deaths. If that's the case, do you have to expand your goals and reoccupy gaza? Your economics minister is saying now that you may have to topple the hamas regime. I think our goal is to restore a sustainable quiet. I think if we get that, we'll have to use the quiet, to recruit, George, the international community to demilitarize gaza. Gaza -- we handed over gaza to the Palestinians. We did what the international community has been telling us. Hand over the key to P.A., the Palestinian authority. They were booted out by hamas. Hamas, with Iran at its back, as Iran has been financing, equipping, training them, giving them thousands and thousands of rockets, they have turned gaza into a terror fortress. And I think the goal will be, after we achieve a sustainable quiet, to work with the international community to Demille tearize gaza from the rockets and shut down the attack tunnels. That would mean that hamas would no longer be there. Hamas has not accepted a cease-fire. Israel accepted a cease-fire proposal earlier in the week. Is Israel prepared to talk about the other demands? The release of prisoners? The end of the blockade? The loosening of the border crossings? Hamas has a large list of demands. If we took that seriously, what would happen is that this terror organization that has criminally bombarded our cities. Think about that. Somebody bombarding 80% of the American population and it comes out winning. I think this will deal a devastating blow to the Palestinian authority. To president abbas. It will be a devastating blow to the region. Where other terror groups will see this type of terror behavior is rewarded. I called for a cease-fire right away. I accepted the Egyptians cease-fire. Backed up by the Arab league. I accepted a U.N. Cease-fire. Hamas rejected that, too. We did a humanitarian cease-fire now. Hamas has rejected that, too. Hamas doesn't care. The last thing you want to do is reward them. Let's get a sustainable quiet and let's work at demilitarizing gaza. The final question. How and when does this end? Israel has gone in before. It hasn't solved the problem. This is a serious problem. You're right. They were surprised that we developed this iron dome defense system, which is amazing. I'm very grateful for president Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the American people for helping us fund this missile defense. That is a temporary means. You're right. There is a problem in the middle east. We have this mad islamists. I say the last thing they want to do is have them have missiles, groans, chemical weapons, or in the case of Iran, nuclear weapons. That would really change history. Thank you for your time this morning.
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