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July 16, 2014 2:31 pm
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Israel’s Netanyahu to Italy FM: ‘Imagine Rome, Florence and Milan Were Rocketed Indiscriminately by a Terrorist Group Next to You’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Cherie Cullen / WikiCommons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Cherie Cullen / WikiCommons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday asked Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini in Jerusalem to stand in Israel’s shoes for a moment, to imagine what Rome’s response would be to indiscriminate rocket fire into Italian territory.

Netanyahu told Mogherini: “Italy has one advantage over us. It has sea from three sides. But imagine that your cities of Rome, Florence and Milan were rocketed indiscriminately by a terrorist group next to you. You wouldn’t accept it. And you’d fight back. And that’s what Israel is doing. We’re fighting back.”

“Those who are firing at us are not seeking a political solution,” he said. “Those who are firing at us are seeking the disappearance of Israel, the destruction of Israel. And so for them we have one answer: we will fight you and we will defeat you.”

“That is something that we are committed to do. And I think that’s important for peace,” he said. “I think that the most important thing vis-à-vis Gaza is to ensure that Gaza is demilitarized from rockets and from the attack tunnels that Hamas is seeking, is building into Israel. This is an important part of the long-term solution but in the immediate moment, Israel has to take the actions to defend its citizens as any normal country would against terrorists who are committing double war crimes of targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians. I think this is a standard that all responsible members of the international community should condemn. I know you do.”

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Netanyahu thanked Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for his expression of solidarity, along with many other world leaders.

“They understand our battle against Hamas terrorists, who are seeking to fire rockets on our cities,” Netanyahu said. “They killed an Israeli citizen yesterday, but they’re targeting millions of our citizens, directly targeting them with rocket fire which is a war crime, and also using their own civilians as human shields – another war crime. We’ve been trying to find a solution to this problem.”

“Yesterday I accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. This was a proposal that was endorsed by the UN Secretary General and by the Arab League. Israel accepted the ceasefire, Hamas rejected it. We held our fire for six hours, and during that time Hamas continue to barrage our cities with rockets. Hamas thus shut the door to a diplomatic solution and it therefore bears the sole responsibility for the continuation of the violence.”

He said Hamas is “responsible for the civilian deaths, the innocent deaths of Palestinians that it uses as human shields, and it’s responsible for the deaths of Israeli civilians and the terror rocketing of Israeli civilians.”

“I believe that all members of the international community should unequivocally condemn Hamas for these crimes,” Netanyahu told Mogherini. “I believe that all members of the international community should unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

“None of the countries that I know would adopt a different position, and therefore I appreciate the support of many world leaders, including you, for Israel’s right to defend itself. And Israel will continue to do so until peace and quiet are restored. This is our right; this is our duty; we will act by it.”

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