Sat. May 18th, 2024

New Delhi:

Israel will “do its best to avoid killing bystanders but there will be collateral damage because this is war”, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid told NDTV Monday afternoon, less than 72 hours after the Hamas launched a massive, coordinated aerial and ground assault. He said Tel Aviv’s response to Hamas’ aggression – both counterattacks and an offensive of its own – will be measured but ruthless.

“This (Israel’s response) is going to be long and painful… we are going to attack Gaza because Hamas is in Gaza. We are going to do our best to avoid killing bystanders and collateral damage, but there will be (collateral damage) because this war is in a very densely populated area,” he said.

Mr Lapid also took a swipe at global leaders who “will come and say, ‘See, you have to stop this'”.

“We will need the support of friends to help the world understand why Israel must react sharply in the coming days… and, when so-called leaders will come and say, ‘See, you have to stop this’, we will need their support to say, ‘We will stop when Hamas is beaten and not a second before that’.”

READ | NDTV Ground Report: Rocket Attack Near Israel Hotel, Crew Takes Shelter

The Israeli leader also accused Iran of playing a role in these attacks.

However, earlier today Iran rejected such allegations. This was American publication Wall Street Journal said it had helped to plan Hamas’ assault and gave it the “green light” for the strikes.

Over 1,000 people have killed and nearly five times that number have been injured since the Hamas fired an initial salvo of 500 rockets and its fighters poured across the border, using bulldozers and explosives to break through the fence surrounding the blockaded Palestinian enclave.

READ | Explained: How Mossad Functions And Why It Failed To Stop Hamas Attack

Hamas gunmen reportedly went door-to-door to execute civilians or take them hostage and also attacked a music festival attended by foreigners. Reports estimate over 1,000 gunmen have flooded Israel and many have since gone to ground, waiting to potentially launch attacks at a later date.

Israel’s much-vaunted intelligence agencies, including the famous Mossad, were caught napping, but Mr Lapid told NDTV that would “never happen again”. “We need to make sure they never again get an opportunity to massacre women and children… need to make sure this never happens again.”

READ | “We Have Huge Intelligence Failure On Our Hands”: Israel Ex-PM Exclusive

“… yes, we had a huge intelligence failure. But we have a good history of learning from mistakes rather than agonising over it. We were caught by surprise once. We won’t be caught twice…”

Israel declared war on Hamas on Sunday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to reduce to “rubble” its hideouts in Gaza, which is home to 2.3 million people who have been hemmed in by an Israeli blockade for over 15 years. He also warned Gaza civilians to move away from Hamas sites.

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