Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman met this morning with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Netanyahu thanked Hammond for coming to Israel during trying times, and said the United Kingdom has a “historical understanding” of Israel’s situation vis-à-vis Hamas.
“There’s only been one other instance where a democracy has been rocketed and pelleted with these projectiles of death, and that’s Britain during World War II. Israel is undergoing a similar bombardment now. We’re responding in our own way by targeting the rocketeers and seeking to ferret out these terrorists who are hiding behind civilians while firing at our civilians. This is a double war crime, and naturally it’s made more difficult for us to fight this criminality because as I’ve just shown you, the terrorists are firing rockets from schools, from mosques, from hospitals, from heavily civilian populations; and we have to try and are doing our best to minimize civilian casualties. But we cannot give our attackers immunity or impunity. We seek as best as we can to target them, but all the civilian deaths that are there – and we regret each one of them – are the responsibility of the Hamas, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorists who are in league with them.
“This use of human shields is extraordinarily cynical. It’s grotesque. It’s inhuman. But what is equally grotesque is that Israel was condemned in the Human Rights Council. It’s a travesty of justice; it’s a travesty of fairness; it’s a travesty of common sense; it’s a travesty of truth. And I think that it will not prevent us from continuing to act to defend our people, to protect them against rocket attacks and to dismantle the vast terror tunnels network that we have seen that is geared to penetrate our territory. We’ll continue with that activity in order to defend our people.
I want to thank you and Prime Minister Cameron for standing up for Israel’s right to defend itself. I’m also aware of the fact that British Airways continues and continued its flights during the last few days, and that was equally appreciated. I thank you for keeping your moral focus and your moral clarity. We shall need it in the days ahead,” Netanyahu said.
Responding to Netanyahu’s comments, Mr Hammond said London is “determined to do everything that it can to help to bring this current conflict to a quick end,” and stated clearly that the British government believes Hamas is responsible for the current round of fighting.
“This current cycle of violence was triggered by Hamas firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns and cities indiscriminately and in breach of international humanitarian law. Britain has also been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens, but we are gravely concerned by the ongoing heavy level of civilian casualties. We want to see a ceasefire quickly agreed. We welcomed the earlier ceasefire proposal by Egypt, and we were grateful to you, Prime Minister, for your immediate agreement to it. We are disappointed that Hamas has apparently once again rejected ceasefire proposals,” Hammond said.
FM Liberman told Secretary Hammond that Israel expects special understanding on the part of the the British. During one of the most difficult but greatest hours of Great Britain, when London was bombed during World War II, we learned from Churchill that even if the price is blood, sweat and tears, a nation that wants to survive must fight for its freedom.