Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he prefers diplomacy to halt cross-border aerial strikes between his country and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. But he again pledged that Israel will take every action to protect its citizens.
Speaking before talks in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late Tuesday, Netanyahu said obviously no country can tolerate attacks on its citizens.
Clinton called this a critical moment for Israel, adding that the U.S. commitment to Israeli security is rock solid. She said terrorist rocket attacks on Israel must end, and that a durable outcome is needed that promotes the security and aspirations of both Israel and the Palestinians.
She also said her heart breaks for every civilian death, Israeli and Palestinian.
Tuesday came and went without an Egyptian-brokered deal for what officials are calling a period of calm – not a true cease-fire. Clinton, who plans to meet with Palestinian and Egyptian leaders Wednesday, said she appreciates Egypt’s efforts so far.
Israeli and Hamas have traded rocket fire since an Israeli missile killed Hamas’ military chief in Gaza City last week. Israel says the attack was a direct response to months of almost daily rocket fire into southern Israel from Gaza.
The violence has killed more than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis. Most of the Palestinian deaths have been civilians.
Hamas has called the Israeli attacks on Gaza a Netanyahu political stunt to look strong ahead of January elections. It also demands that Israel ease its long-standing blockade of Gaza.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is accusing Hamas of using civilians as human shields, placing rocket launchers and other targets in schools, mosques and other civilian areas.
Israel has also threatened a ground invasion into Gaza. The Israeli army dropped Arabic-language leaflets over numerous Gaza neighborhoods Tuesday, warning civilians to evacuate their residences and move toward the center of Gaza City.