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Israel PM says 'very strong' world support for Gaza assault

July 20, 2014 9:29 P.M. (Updated: July 22, 2014 9:12 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday there was "very strong" international support for the military's ongoing operation in Gaza that has killed more than 430 Palestinians in 13 days.

"We are carrying out a complex, deep, intensive activity inside the Gaza Strip and there is world support for this ... very strong support within the international community for the activity that the IDF is doing," he said at a press conference in the defence ministry in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu has said Israel won "international legitimacy" for its military operation in Gaza after it accepted an Egyptian truce proposal on July 15 which was shunned by Hamas.

"As a democratic state, Israel is using the legitimate tools of self-defense to try and harm those who are firing rockets at us. I think this distinction is clear to most world leaders," he said.

Israel's right to self-defense in the face of militant rocket fire from Gaza has won repeated broad support from Washington although it has raised concerns about the rising number of civilian deaths.

Earlier on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Hamas for perpetuating the bloody conflict in Gaza by "stubbornly" refusing all ceasefire efforts.

By its behavior, Hamas had "invited further actions" by Israel, he said, demanding the movement take responsibility for the consequences of its actions.

Although Netanyahu said the military's ground campaign would expand as much as necessary to destroy a network of cross-border tunnels used by militants to stage attacks inside Israel, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon suggested it could be over within days.

"My assessment is that in another two or three days, the lion's share of the tunnels, from our perspective, will be destroyed," he said at the same press conference.
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