A senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s military is undertaking a “maximum effort” to minimize civilian casualties amid its military campaign in Gaza.
The war between Israel and Hamas began earlier this month after the militant group killed over 1,400 Israelis in a surprise attack on towns and military bases.
The resulting airstrikes from Israel have killed more than 4,300 Palestinians, including over 1,700 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The increasing number of civilian casualties has sparked worldwide protests for a ceasefire in the conflict.
“We don’t want to see innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire between us and Hamas,” Mark Regev said in an MSNBC interview Saturday. “And we’re making a maximum effort and we understand that in many ways the civilian population of Gaza is a victim of that terrible Hamas regime that’s been ruling the Gaza Strip for the last 16 years.”
Regev, who is also the former Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, said Israel’s government is not considering a ceasefire.
“We will continue the operation against Hamas, we will dismantle its military machine, and we will do so in a way that we will try as best as we can to minimize civilian civilians getting caught up in the crossfire,” he said.
A resolution to support a ceasefire in the House, led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), garnered support from numerous progressive Democrats. It has also led to divisions in the party, as the Biden administration fully backs the Israeli offensive.
“I am grieving for every Palestinian, Israeli, and American life lost to this violence, and my heart breaks for all those who will be forever traumatized because of it,” Bush said in a statement introducing her resolution on Monday.
“War and retaliatory violence doesn’t achieve accountability or justice; it only leads to more death and human suffering,” she added.
Regev defended the Israeli military strategy, saying its strikes on Gaza are reasonable and retaliatory for the initial attacks by Hamas and its capture of hostages.
“We don’t target the civilian population of Gaza,” he said. “The truth is, Israel is trying to save lives while Hamas is willing to sacrifice an untold number of Palestinian civilians on the altar of it’s crazy hate and hateful, extreme ideology.”
Concerns over Gaza civilians are loudest among humanitarian aid leaders and the United Nations. Aid groups have described the situation in Gaza as dire, with dwindling food and water resources, nearly no medical supplies and no fuel to run generators for power.
Humanitarian aid began to slowly move into the the Gaza Strip Saturday morning after nearly a full day of delays.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke at a summit of Arab leaders calling for peace in the conflict in Cairo on Saturday.
“The grievances of the Palestinian people are legitimate and long,” Guterres said. “We cannot and must not ignore the wider context for these tragic events: the long-standing conflict and 56 years of occupation with no end in sight.”
“But nothing can justify the reprehensible assault by Hamas that terrorized Israeli civilians,” he continued. “And those abhorrent attacks can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
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