Israeli PM accuses Hamas of violating own ceasefire, denies targeting civilians

Updated: 2014-07-28 20:36

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JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused Hamas of violating a ceasefire it had called for itself and pledged to do whatever must be done to protect his country.

In an interview with CNN, he also brushed aside allegations that Israelis forces targeted civilians in the offensive against the Gaza Strip, and blamed Hamas for using local people as "human shields."

"They are violating their own ceasefire. Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people, " Netanyahu vowed.

Earlier in the day, Islamic Hamas movement announced on that it has agreed with the Palestinian factions to accept a UN-proposed ceasefire for 24 hours in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri said in a text message sent to reporters that "responding to the UN intervention and considering our people's situation, it was agreed with the Palestinian factions to go for a 24-hour ceasefire starts 2:00 p.m. on Sunday."

Before that, Israel has endorsed an Egypt-brokered ceasefire plan, which was simply rejected by Hamas, which said the truce deal did not meet its some of key demands in an acceptable proposal.

Netanyahu told CNN that Israeli forces will keep on with its military campaign in a bid to dismantle Hamas' cross-border tunnel network, and to eliminate its rocket arsenal.

"I'm not going to talk about specific military operation ... Israel is doing what any other country would do and the U.S. would do if any percent of your country were under fire and you have 60 or 90 seconds to get to a bomb shelter," the prime minister said.

"I would say we want to stop firing rockets for sure. We want to dismantle the tunnel, the terror tunnel network we uncovered. I don't know if we'll have 100 percent success," he added. "Our soldiers are dealing with it now."

In another interview with CBS, Netanyahu stressed that his country does not deliberately target civilian Gazans, and slammed Hamas for provoking conflict in residential areas, adding that his long-term goal was to avert future attacks on Israel.

On Saturday, the two warring parties dashed back into attacking each other shortly after the half-day humanitarian ceasefire ended, which was proposed by the UN and world powers and agreed upon by both sides with the purpose of retrieving bodies from under the rubbles of houses flattened in weeks of bombardment.

The latest round of non-stopping airstrikes and rocket firing, which was first triggered by the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youngsters and a revenge murder of a Palestinian teen weeks ago, has left over 1,030 Palestinians dead and more than 6, 000 wounded.

Meanwhile, since Israel launched its ground incursion in Gaza, a total of 43 Israeli soldiers were killed in the operation.

The UN and the some world powers, including the United States and China, have been engaged in intense shuttle diplomacy recently so as to quell the ever-escalating crisis in the coastal enclave. Yet so far, their efforts have been ineffective and futile.

The Hamas insisted that for a truce deal to be viable, the lift of a seven-year blockade on Gaza has to be terminated. Otherwise, they said they will not lay down their arms and stop fighting.