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Israel air force denies indiscriminate bombing in Gaza offensive

Faced with growing criticism over its military actions in the Gaza Strip, Israeli air force officers on Monday defended their actions in war against Hamas. “All the bombs we use are high-precision bombs,” an officer told reporters during a military-organised visit of the Palmahim air base, on the Mediterranean coast south of Tel Aviv. The Israeli air force has played a key role in the military response to Hamas’s deadly October 7 attacks that killed around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. Shortly after the unprecedented attacks by the Palestinian militants on southern Israel, the military first responded with a massive campaign of air strikes, later sending ground forces into besieged Gaza. The Israeli offensive, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed at least 19,453 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry. The death toll out of Gaza has earned Israel international rebuke including from close allies. US President Joe Biden has warned Israel was at risk of losing international support due to its “indiscriminate” bombing of the Palestinian territory. “I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives — not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful,” Biden said. But to the Israeli officer, whose name is barred from publication due to Israeli censorship rules, “we don’t need the Americans to understand we want to limit casualties.” “We did not need to change our principles” in light of international concern, he argued, saying Israeli forces had aimed at limiting civilian casualties “from the beginning”. A report by Washington’s Director of National Intelligence, quoted by US media, said that nearly half of munitions dropped by Israeli aircraft on Gaza were “dumb” bombs — unguided munitions with limited accuracy. The Israeli officer said that was inaccurate. “There (are) no dumb bombs” used in the current war, he told reporters. “All the bombs have accurate (targets), some of them by GPS, some of them by cameras, some of them by computers” on board fighter jets. Israel insists Hamas is to blame for mass civilian casualties, accusing the militant group of using innocent Palestinians as “human shields” and operating out of hospitals, schools and UN facilities. “For Hamas, the deaths of civilians is a strategy,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said Monday. “For us, it’s a tragedy.” Gaza, a narrow territory of 2.4 million people, has “civilians, residents and terrorists in crowded areas”, the air force officer said. “We need to be, on the one hand, very strong, use a lot of ammunitions, (and) on the other hand use them precisely.”

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