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Israeli Officials Defend Gaza Attacks

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We also have perspective from Israeli officials who are speaking out today. On CBS's "Face The Nation" this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his country's actions in response to what he claims have been 2,900 rockets fired on Israel.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: If Hamas thought that they could just fire on our rockets and then sit back and enjoy immunity, that's false. We are targeting a terrorist organization that is targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians, using them as human shields. We're doing everything we can to hit the terrorists themselves, their rockets, their rocket caches and their arms. But we're not going to just let them get away with it.

MARTIN: Netanyahu went on to say that Israel has a right to defend itself and would continue this course as long as it deems it necessary.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

NETANYAHU: I think any country has to defend itself. It has a natural right of self-defense. We'll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet and out of the security of our people and deterrence. We're trying to degrade Hamas' terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again. So it'll take some time. I hope it won't take long, but it's not immediate.

MARTIN: We also heard from Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. He is the international spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces. Speaking on CNN's "Reliable Sources," he was pressed this morning to explain the Israeli military's decision to destroy that building in Gaza yesterday that housed the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. His response.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RELIABLE SOURCES")

JONATHAN CONRICUS: Not only was Hamas in the building, they were actively using it to fight against Israel. They were using the infrastructure as their command center and intelligence center. They had special technological equipment in the building, which they used to actively fight and disrupt Israeli actions. And as such, it is a - as you said in the beginning, we deem it to be a legitimate military target. And out of consideration for human life and for the people who worked there, we chose to forfeit additional military gains by surprise attacking. And instead we did what, of course, is the right thing to do, advance warning and allowed everybody to clear, vacate the premises and made sure that everybody were out before the building was struck.

MARTIN: When asked to provide evidence for that intelligence information, Conricus said it is quote, "in process," unquote, and that in due time the information would be presented. NPR will continue to report on this story, so we hope he will continue to check back for coverage on the air and online.

(SOUNDBITE OF HARRIS HELLER'S "AMBIENT GOLD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.