Israel’s ambassador to the United States praised the Obama administration for standing in support of the now two-week-old Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Tuesday, despite calls this week by President Obama for a cease-fire.
“The president has been backing Israel’s right to defend itself in the strongest possible terms,” Ambassador Ron Dermer said. “I don’t think that support could have been any better than it was.”
While Mr. Obama has dispatched Secretary of State John F. Kerry to the region to try and negotiate a halt in fighting between Israeli forces and militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Mr. Dermer said the onus is on the Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets into Israel.
Until that happens, the Israeli assault on Gaza will continue, he said, adding that before the conflict began, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made it clear that “quiet would be met with quiet.”
Mr. Dermer made the remarks during a breakfast with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor in Washington on Tuesday morning.
At one point during the breakfast, he lashed out at U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, asserting that a recent report by the group was an unfair “kangaroo court” indictment of Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza.
Human Rights Watch had said in a report posted on its website Monday that several recent Israeli strikes in Gaza appeared to have been “in violation of the laws of war.” The report drew specific attention to strikes that killed four Palestinian boys on a Gaza City pier and others that hit a hospital for paralyzed elderly patients.
Mr. Dermer seethed when asked about the report Tuesday, asserting that “What Human Rights Watch should be doing is they should be condemning Hamas, [and] not just one or two sentences in a 10-page indictment of Israel, but focus on this question of human shields.”
He added that Hamas commanders in Gaza are strategically placing innocent civilian around the militant group’s weapons positions to shield the positions from Israeli military strikes.
“It’s a war crime,” Mr. Dermer said. “Will the world actually take a stand against the use of human shields?”
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