By Kyle Anzalone / Antiwar.com
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Israel was “trying to [minimize] civilian casualties. But unfortunately, we’re not successful.” The prime minister’s statement comes as the UN warns that the Israeli fuel embargo of Gaza could cause widespread starvation in the besieged enclave.
In an interview with CBS News on Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister said Tel Aviv was trying to wipe out Hamas with minimal civilian casualties. He stated, “That’s what we’re trying to do: minimal civilian casualties. But unfortunately, we’re not successful.”
Netanyahu went on to blame Hamas for the high civilian death toll in Gaza. “Any civilian death is a tragedy. And we shouldn’t have any because we’re doing everything we can to get the civilians out of harm’s way, while Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm’s way,” he argued.
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The Israeli leader says his forces have taken steps to warn civilians of upcoming strikes. “So, we send leaflets, [we] call them on their cell phones, and we say: ‘leave’. And many have left,” Netanyahu said.
In the first weeks of the Israeli military campaign, Tel Aviv instructed Gazans to move to the southern half of the strip. However, at least some who fled their homes were killed while trying to evacuate. After fleeing, numerous Gaza residents have been unable to locate basic resources and were forced to return to their homes.
On Wednesday, Israel began instructing Palestinians in southern Gaza to evacuate. It is unclear where the people could go.
Since Israel started bombing Gaza six weeks ago, at least 11,000 civilians, including 4,500 children, have been killed. The UN reports, The UN reports “One in every 57 people living in the Gaza Strip has been killed or wounded.” Dozens of journalists and doctors are among the dead. Over 100 UN staff members have been killed.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, told the UN Security Council the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza has decimated the healthcare infrastructure. “WHO has recorded at least 137 attacks on health care in Gaza, with especially severe impact on Al-Shifa Hospital in recent days, where newborns on life support are dying due to power, oxygen, and water cuts, while many other patients of all ages are at risk – as well as medics, and people sheltering on the hospital grounds,” he said.
Netanyahu attempted to justify the two-day raid on the al-Shifa Hospital by claiming Israel believed it would find hostages in the facility and that Hamas was using the building as a headquarters. He told CBS News there were “strong indications” that Israeli hostages were being held there, and this was “one of the reasons we entered.” However, none were found.
The Israeli Prime Minister went on to say Tel Aviv had “concrete evidence” that there were “terrorist chieftains and terrorists” in the hospital, but that these fled as Israel’s forces advanced. Israeli forces who entered Al-Shifa found a small number of guns and uniforms.
After a Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, Tel Aviv cut off all food, aid, water, and fuel into Gaza. The Israeli government has relaxed the embargo and allowed small amounts of food and water into the besieged enclave. However, the lack of fuel has now completely halted all aid shipments. While Netanyahu says he is attempting to take a moral path and save Palestinians’ lives when possible, the international aid agencies warn that there is now a risk of mass starvation in Gaza.