Netanyahu: Hamas to blame for deaths

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s air strikes against Gaza, saying the country would defend itself by “whatever means are necessary” amid a flurry of rocket attacks launched by Hamas.

“Any country would act to defend itself against this,” Netanyahu told CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” “We are doing exactly what any country would do; you would do if you were targeted from across the border. You would try to pinpoint the rocketeer, that’s what we're doing.”

Netanyahu spoke by satellite from Tel Aviv, and the rocket alert system warning of an incoming attack was audible during parts of the interview. The Israeli prime minister insisted that Israel was trying to target Hamas rocketeers “surgically,” but said that terror groups were intentionally embedding in “homes, hospitals, next to kindergartens, [and in] mosques.”

“The difference between us is that we're using missile defense to protect our civilians and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles,” Netanyahu said. “So naturally, they're responsible for all the civilian deaths that occur accidentally. We're sorry for any accidental civilian deaths, but it's the Hamas that bears complete responsibility for such civilian causalities.”

Palestinian officials said Saturday that Israeli attacks had killed more than 120, with more than 920 people wounded. There have not been any Israeli casualties stemming from the hundreds of barrage of rocket attacks stemming from Gaza, partially due to the U.S.-funded “Iron Dome” rocket defense system, which has intercepted over 100 rockets so far.

The kidnappings and murder of four teenagers — a Palestinian and three Israelis — sparked the latest round of violence between the two sides.

On Sunday, Netanyahu suggested that the Israeli military campaign could continue for some time.

“I'm not going to say right now how and when that goal will be achieved, whether by diplomatic and military means,” he said. “But that goal has to be achieved. We need to have quiet restored to our people and for a sustainable period of time and not just for five minutes.”

Netanyahu said that the recent surge of violence did not kill the idea of a two-state solution, but that peace would not be possible without defeating “the forces who are seeking to extinguish the Jewish state completely.”

“As far as Hamas is concerned, they couldn't care less if you come with a two-state solution, a three-state solution or a four-state solution; they want a no-state solution, no Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “And therefore, if you want to have peace, you have to fight these people and you have to roll them back.”