As the calls for prosecuting Israeli officials for alleged war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague increase worldwide, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann says that the Israel Defense Forces took every measure during Operation Cast Lead in order to prevent the killing of civilians.
According to Friedmann, "We are in a reversed situation, in which the Israeli army defends the enemy's civilians."
Speaking at a Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the minister said that the IDF was obeying international law and that Israel did not commit any war crimes.
He added that one must remember Israel has been fighting terror all its lives, and that many times the Israeli soldiers put themselves at risk in order to avoid hurting civilians.
Minister Friedmann went on to say that "Hamas wants to ruin our lives, to kill Jewish children, and not so long ago we discovered that they are also interested in having their population hurt, because that's the only way for them to pressure us.
"The more civilians killed – the better it is for them, because they can show it on TV and get the world's support. The killing of one Jewish child will not draw so much attention, but with a mass killing on their side they can recruit the entire media."
'Look who's talking about war crimes'According to Friedmann, Hamas uses hospitals, mosques and schools to store weapons and hide terrorists.
"A school is supposed to be a place of education, not a place for hiding terrorists. The Israeli army has taken every measure in order to protect the civilian population in Gaza. The army warned the civilians of a strike, and in some cases the warning led to undesired outcomes, when instead of leaving an additional civilian population arrived. The Israeli army often puts its own soldiers at risk in order to avoid hurting civilians," he stated.
The justice minister also criticized countries calling for the prosecution of Israeli officials.
"Israel differs from the other countries of the world, because it warned of the damage which may be caused to civilians. Look who's talking about war crimes, about human rights. (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad is the one complaining. War criminals who have carried out all these acts are trying to hide in order to continue executing these crimes.
"They are abusing the international law and human rights, and we hope the world understands what is happening and that Israel is exceptional in terms of hurting civilians. Look at what happened in Chechnya and what is happening in Iraq and how many civilians have been injured in Afghanistan, and no one talks about it."
Responding to a question on possible lawsuits against Israeli officials, Friedmann said, "At the end of the day we hope we'll be able to convince the legislators in other countries not to continue with such lawsuits. We are looking into this according to international law and hope we'll be able to convince them that the entire procedure is inappropriate."