WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly urging U.S. lawmakers to protect his country from Palestinian claims that Israel engaged in “war crimes” during recent Gaza fighting that left nearly 1,900 Palestinians dead.
A top Israeli lawmaker told The New York Post that Netanyahu is urging U.S. lawmakers to “help Israel avoid war crimes charges.” The Israeli leader is reportedly appealing to American legislators to resist a seemingly global backlash against the Gaza fighting, saying that Israel took “extraordinary measures” to avoid civilian deaths in the recent month-long conflict.
According to Gaza officials, three-quarters of the 1,900 Palestinians killed in the fighting were civilians, although Israeli Defense Forces have stressed that Hamas has intentionally used civilians as human shields. Three Israeli civilians and 64 Israeli soldiers have also been killed in the Gaza conflict.
Netanyahu said that “90percent of the fatalities could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected the ceasefire it accepts now,” according to The Post.
Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., met with Netanyahu and other U.S. legislators to discuss the plans following the third day of a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.
According to The Post, Netanyahu asked the group to help Israel stay out of the International Criminal Court. Netanyahu told reporters that the U.S. should put in perspective the attacks from Hamas, saying, “Let’s imagine your country was attacked by 3,500 rockets.”
“The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the ICC does not succeed,” Israel told The Post by phone from Tel Aviv.
Israel continued, saying Netanyahu “wants the U.S. to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held to a double standard.”
President Barack Obama said he had “no sympathy” for Hamas following continued rocket attacks, but urged Israel to make a long-term deal with the Palestinians.
According to The Associated Press last week, Netanyahu told U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, that the Obama administration was “not to ever second-guess” him again. He added that he “expected” the U.S. and other countries to fully support Israel’s Gaza offensive, according to sources familiar with the call.