Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Sunday that Hamas was callously making use of Palestinian casualties for the sake of the visual impact in television images and called on the international community to intervene and demilitarize the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Netanyahu accused Hamas of a cynical disregard for human life.
“These people are the worst terrorists — genocidal terrorists,” he said. “They call for the destruction of Israel and they call for the killing of every Jew, wherever they can find them.”
“They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can,” the prime minister continued. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”
Netanyahu pointed out that Israel had allowed cement into Gaza for the purpose of constructing buildings, schools, and hospitals, but Hamas terrorists diverted it for use in tunnels.
“They put seven hundred tons of concrete into each one of these terror attack tunnels to penetrate Israel,” he said. “Now we’ve discovered dozens of them, so you’re talking about tens of thousands of tons of concrete instead of going to the benefit of the school, the population, going for terrorism against Israel.”
Adding that Hamas terrorists “don’t care” about the death and destruction that they have brought down on the local population, he suggested that the international community should “undertake a program to demilitarize Gaza.”
“I think the international community has to, once this is put in place, we really have to undertake a program to demilitarize Gaza and to change the situation because it’s unacceptable. What makes it unacceptable is Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”
Although the prime minister would not be drawn on possible ceasefire offers he laid out what Israel expects: “sustainable quiet” from an eventual truce.
“We didn’t seek this escalation,” he said. “Hamas forced it on us. They started rocketing our cities, steadily increasing the fire. I called for de-escalation; they refused. I accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, backed up by the Arab League and the UN; they refused. I accepted a humanitarian lull, proposed by the United Nations; they refused. We will stop our operations when we can bring back quiet to our people.”
In another interview with the BBC’s Arabic department, also on Sunday, Netanyahu urged Gazans to evacuate areas where battles are being fought, for their own safety.
“Israel regrets every injury to civilians,” he said. “I call on the residents of Gaza, don’t stay there, Hamas wants you to die, we want you to be safe.”
The prime minister noted that Israel had used every possible means to communicate to Gazan residents the need to move to safe areas.