Graham to Israel: 'Stay as long as you need to'

 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged Israel not to let up on its ground operation in Gaza despite criticism over rising Palestinian casualties.

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"My view of the Israeli operation [is] stay as long as you need to stay, go wherever you need to go, do deal with a viper's nest called Hamas," Graham said Sunday on NBC.

The comments came shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry was caught on a hot microphone before a Fox News interview expressing frustration with apparent Israeli escalation.

"It's a hell of a pin-point operation, it's a hell of a pin-point operation," Kerry sarcastically told an aide on the phone.

The secretary returned to a more official tone in interviews across the major networks Sunday, saying Israel has a right to defend itself but that "no human being is comfortable" with civilians beings killed in the process.

Graham, meanwhile, said the Israel Defense Forces should pursue its offensive until all the terrorist tunnels and rocket sites operated by Hamas are shut down.

"Over 1,500 rockets have been fired [by Hamas]. The only reason they have as few Israel casualties is because of the Iron Dome. If it's left up to Hamas, thousands of Israelis would be dead," he said.

"I hope the international community will not find a moral equivalence here," he added.

Kerry is scheduled to travel to the region shortly to help broker a potential cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, he said.