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POLITICS: PennAve

Benjamin Netanyahu calls Israeli military response 'surgical'

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Israel,PennAve,Terrorism,Middle East,Benjamin Netanyahu,Foreign Policy,Zack Colman,Palestinians,Gaza,Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his military has tried to be "surgical" in its attacks on the Gaza Strip, and that he has support from world leaders to respond to rocket fire being launched into his country.

More than 150 people have died since fighting began earlier this month between Israel and Hamas, the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group and governing political party, according to various media reports.

Israeli forces have tried to limit civilian casualties through a process of pre-warning people who live in bombing targets to leave home. But it's often hit civilian areas because that's where Hamas locates its rocketeers.

"It's very tough," Netanyahu said. "There's always going to be civilian casualties, which I regret."

This most recent fighting was set in motion when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank and were found dead on June 30 in Hebron. Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied official involvement, though Israel blamed the group for the incident.

In the search for the teens, Israeli forces apprehended dozens of Palestinian activists -- including more than 50 Hamas-affiliated former prisoners released in exchange for Israeli soldier and prisoner of war Gilad Shalit. When the Israel teens were found dead, a Palestinian youth was abducted and killed in Jerusalem in what was considered a revenge killing. Hamas responded by launching rockets into Israel, to which the nation responded with volleys of their own.

Maen Rashid Areikat, Palestinian Liberation Organization ambassador to the United States Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," that "our objective right now is to reach an immediate ceasefire."

"I think Hamas has been practical in its political positions in recent years. I don't think Hamas is seeking a confrontation with Israel," he said, putting the genesis of the confrontation on recently waylaid peace talks rather than the killed teens.

Netanyahu said he has the assurance of President Obama and other heads of state that Israel is properly asserting its right to self defense.

"We can't enable our population to be under continuous rocket fire," Netanyahu said. "We face a very brutal terrorist enemy."

Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said on "Face the Nation" that there's no timetable for curtailing the attacks.

"It ends when we are able to achieve our military objective, which is to restore a sustained period of quiet for the people of Israel," Dermer said Sunday.

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Zack Colman

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner

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