Netanyahu says Hamas put Gaza children in line of Israeli fire

Washington (AFP) –


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas Tuesday of deliberately putting children in the line of fire amid an outcry over the Israeli army's killing of dozens of Palestinians along the Gaza border.

The Israeli premier told US television that troops were left with no choice but to use lethal force during protests against Monday's opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, and responsibility for the deaths lay entirely with the Islamist movement.

"They (Hamas) are pushing civilians -- women, children -- into the line of fire with a view of getting casualties," Netanyahu told the CBS network.

"We've tried to minimize casualties, they are trying to incur casualties in order to put pressure on Israel which is horrible," he added.

"These things are avoidable. If Hamas had not pushed them there nothing would happen. Hamas holds responsibility for doing this and they're deliberately doing it."

A string of foreign governments have voiced alarm about the use of live fire against the protesters, with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing the Jewish state of "state terror."

But Netanyahu said other countries would have done the same to prevent its borders being breached.

"I don't know of any army that would do anything differently, if you had to protect your border against people who say 'we are going to destroy you and we are going to flood into your country,'" he said.

"You try other means, you try all sort of means, you try non-lethal means and they don't work so you are left with bad choices, it's a bad deal. You go for below the knee and sometimes it doesn't work unfortunately."

The US government has also placed the blame for the bloodshed with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Speaking at the UN on Tuesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Hamas would have been "pleased with the results from yesterday" when 60 Gazans were killed, including a baby who died from tear gas inhalation along with eight children under the age of 16.

"The Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy," she told an emergency meeting of the Security Council.