TEL AVIV — In a recent interview with CBS, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the challenges Israel faces in minimizing civilian casualties in Gaza amid the ongoing military campaign against Hamas. Netanyahu expressed regret that Israel has not been successful in preventing civilian deaths.
“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,” Netanyahu stated in the interview.
Israel has employed various methods, including sending leaflets and making phone calls, to urge civilians to evacuate targeted areas. The Prime Minister emphasized the commitment to finishing the operation with minimal civilian casualties, even though, as he admitted, “unfortunately, we’re not successful.”
The military campaign, initiated by Israel in response to a Hamas attack on 7 October, has resulted in thousands of reported deaths. Netanyahu squarely placed the blame for civilian casualties on Hamas, accusing the group of deliberately endangering the lives of Palestinian civilians.
During the interview, Netanyahu also mentioned “strong indications” that hostages had been held in al Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility. However, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that the hostages were no longer present when they entered the building.
IDF soldiers continued searching underground levels of the hospital, detaining technicians responsible for running the hospital equipment. The military released footage of three duffle bags allegedly containing assault rifles, grenades, and Hamas uniforms, found hidden around an MRI lab. The weapons the IDF claims to have found in the hospital so far fall drastically short of its earlier claims that below the hospital was a Hamas “command and control”.
Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza have claimed a high toll of casualties, stating that at least 11,500 people have been killed during Israel’s ongoing operation, with over 4,700 being children. The conflict has also displaced two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population of 2.3 million, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Israel’s air force recently dropped leaflets in southern and northern Gaza, urging civilians to evacuate for their safety. The mass displacement has raised concerns about the potential long-term impact on the region.
As the conflict persists, Gaza has experienced four mass communication outages since the ground invasion began, adding to the challenges faced by civilians caught in the crossfire. The situation remains complex, with international calls for a peaceful resolution intensifying as both sides grapple with the human toll of the conflict.