Published1 day ago
Israel’s prime minister has said it is trying to minimise civilian casualties in the war in Gaza but has been “not successful”, blaming this on Hamas.
In an interview with CBS News, Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was firing at Palestinians trying to get safety.
Hamas “don’t give a hoot about the Palestinians”, he said.
More than 11,500 people have been killed in Gaza, Hamas’s health ministry says, since Israel went to war after Hamas’s deadly attack on 7 October.
Some 1,200 people were killed and about 240 were taken back to Gaza as hostages when Hamas gunmen burst through the border and attacked Israeli communities and military bases.
Several of the missing people have since been confirmed dead, with Hamas blaming Israeli air strikes, although the claim cannot be independently verified.
Mr Netanyahu told the BBC’s US partner CBS that Israel would “try to finish the job” of wiping out Hamas in Gaza with minimal civilian casualties.
He said: “That’s what we’re trying to do: minimal civilian casualties. But unfortunately, we’re not successful.”
Mr Netanyahu said the Israeli military dropped leaflets urging people to leave certain areas and called civilians on their mobile phones warning them to leave but claimed Hamas was preventing this “at gun point”.
“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 said.
He added Hamas had “fired at the safe corridors that we provided for the Palestinians”.
More on Israel-Gaza war
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- Reporting: BBC goes inside Al-Shifa hospital with the Israeli army
- Explained: The faces of hostages taken from Israel
- History behind the story: The Israel-Palestinian conflict
Addressing Israel’s military raids on Al-Shifa hospital – the biggest medical facility in Gaza – Mr Netanyahu said there were “strong indications” that Israeli hostages were being held there and this was “one of the reasons we entered”.
He said there were no hostages at the hospital when forces entered the hospital on Wednesday, claiming: “If there were [hostages], they were taken out.”
Israel said it has further intelligence about those being held, but Mr Netanyahu said “the less I say about it, the better”.
Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of housing a major base underneath Al-Shifa – something which Hamas and hospital authorities have always denied.
Mr Netanyahu did not elaborate on what information Israel had to suggest that hostages had been held at Al-Shifa.
But he said Israel had “concrete evidence” that there were “terrorist chieftains and terrorists” in the hospital who he said had fled as Israel’s forces entered.
“Hamas was using the patients in that hospital as a human shield,” he said.
Mr Netanyahu said Israel had warned the hospital authorities it was going to enter the facility and to move patients out of the way, adding they were “doing this very gingerly” because they were trying to “do the moral thing”.
Israel’s military said its soldiers had found the bodies of two hostages – 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss and 19-year-old soldier Noa Marciano – in the vicinity of the hospital.