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POLITICS: PennAve

Benjamin Netanyahu: Hamas violating its own cease-fire

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas has violated its own cease-fire Sunday, a move he says leaves Israel with “no choice but to defend ourselves.”

Hamas announced a 24-hour truce with Israel earlier. But Netanyahu said the Palestinians have continued fighting.

“Hamas has broken five cease-fires that we accepted and we actually implemented,” Netanyahu told “Fox News Sunday.” “Now they come with their own cease-fire proposal, and believe it or not they've violated even their own cease-fire proposal. They're shooting at us as we speak.”

The prime minister said Israel will take “the necessary action to protect our people,” including the dismantling of Hamas-built tunnels it says leave them vulnerable to attacks.

“So Israel is not obliged and is not going to let a terrorist organization determine when it's convenient for them to fire at our cities, at our people, and when it's not, when they can restock,” he said.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas forces has raged for almost three weeks, with a death toll estimated at more than 1,000. Hamas said most of the dead have been Palestinians civilians, while Israel has accused Hamas of deliberating putting civilians in harm's way.

“Hamas is responsible for the death of civilians,” Netanyahu told NBC's “Meet the Press” Sunday. “We're telling the civilians to leave. Hamas is telling them to stay. Why is it telling them to stay? Because it wants to pile up their own dead bodies.”

The prime minister also accused Hamas of diverting concrete intended for houses and schools to instead build cross-border tunnels used for attacks on Israel.

Netanyahu said the best chance for sustained peace lies with a five-point cease-fire proposal by Egypt, a plan Hamas previously rejected.

“The Egyptian initiative is the only game in town,” he told NBC. “The Egyptian initiative will also enable us to get what I think are the prerequisites of a sustainable period of quiet, and that requires, in essence, the demilitarization of Gaza.”

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