Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defends his country's response in Gaza — one described by President Joe Biden as "over the top"— saying it targets the "terrorists" and will give "safe passage for the civilian population" of Rafah as it prepares its next advance.
In an interview aired Sunday by ABC News, which shared a transcript of the exchange, Netanyahu declared "victory is within reach" — and pushed back on Biden's criticism of Israel's response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.
"I don't know exactly what he meant by that, but put yourself in Israel's shoes," he said. "We were attacked. Unprovoked attack, murderous attack on October 7th, the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust. And let me tell you, I think we've responded, in a way that goes after the terrorists and tries to minimize the civilian population in which the terrorists embed themselves and use them as human shields..
He also questioned the Ministry of Health in Gaza estimation that more than 28,000 people have been killed and that hundreds of thousands who have been forced from their homes there.
"I'd be cautious with the Hamas statistics, and I can tell you that according to these urban warfare experts and other commentators, we've brought down the civilian-to-terrorist casualty, the ratio down to below 1-to-1, which is considerably less than in any other theater of similar warfare," he asserted. "And we're going to do more."
Explaining the extraordinary 1-1 claim, Netanyahu added: "We've killed and wounded over 20,000 Hamas terrorists, out of that, about 12,000…fighters. And we're doing everything we can to minimize civilian casualties and continue to do so."
"But one thing we're not going to do is we're not going to let Hamas emerge victorious," he said. "And if we leave, it'll be a tremendous victory for the Iran terror axis. It's bad for everyone.
Netanyahu's defiance comes amid efforts of the Biden administration to attain a temporary cease-fire agreement between the warring Israel and Hamas. The proposal would allow the release of the Israeli hostages, increased humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza and space for diplomacy to converse about how to end the war.
Netanyahu told Fox News Sunday he has not spoken to Biden since his criticism of the Israeli military response.
Fran Beyer ✉
Fran Beyer is a writer with Newsmax and covers national politics.
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