Israeli spokesman: Troops are following the rules of war in Gaza fight with Hamas

Israeli spokesman: Troops are following the rules of war in Gaza fight with Hamas

A spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Washington insisted Tuesday that Israeli troops have rigorously followed the accepted rule of armed conflict since the start of its war against Hamas, despite concerns expressed in the U.S. and angry denunciations in many capitals around the world.

Israeli Air Force Lt. Col. Amnon Shefler said IDF leaders are in constant contact with their American counterparts about how the conflict should be conducted as Israeli forces battle Palestinian Hamas militants in the densely populated Gaza Strip.

“We follow the ways and tactics that are best fitting for this very complicated and sad situation that we’re in,” Lt. Col. Shefler told reporters at the embassy. “We do not aim at any time and at any point at civilians. We’re trying to mitigate that in the best way that we can.”

He said other armies don’t face the same pressure that the IDF operates under — with more than 10,500 rockets fired at Israel’s civilian population while facing armed threats from multiple directions. 

He said Israeli military commanders have put their own troops in danger on multiple occasions to clear a building suspected of housing Hamas fighters rather than simply calling in an air strike.

“We believe in the sanctity of life. We are fighting in a way that upholds that,” Col. Shefler said.

He said a number of Hamas officials have moved to the relative safety of southern Gaza along with hundreds of thousands of residents who have left their homes to escape the fighting. Col. Shefler declined to say what the next stage of the IDF campaign in the Gaza Strip would look like once a temporary cease-fire now in effect ends.

“But, if all the hostages are released, then maybe we have a different pace. If there’re no more rockets fired at Israel, then maybe we have a different pace,” he said. “A lot of military questions are continually taken into consideration with how we conduct our operations.”