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Murphy: Israel must be wary of Hamas using civilian deaths for recruitment

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said Tuesday that Israel's military objectives in the conflict in Gaza notwithstanding, the country needs to be aware that rising civilian casualties could simply serve the long-term interests of Hamas as a recruitment tool.

"Israel does need to understand that although they may believe they need two or three more days, if they continue to inflict this kind of civilian casualties, notwithstanding their legitimate military objectives, that ultimately could be more dangerous for Israel rather than less dangerous in the long run, because it will just prolong this conflict and increase the ability of Hamas to recruit into its ranks," Mr. Murphy said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it's Hamas that wants civilian casualties on both sides and Israel is simply defending itself against Hamas-led rocket and ground tunnel attacks. The AP reported Tuesday that at least 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed in the more than two-weeks-long fight.

"What would you do if American cities, where you're sitting now, Brian, would be rocketed, would absorb hundreds of rockets?" Mr. Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams. "You'd say to your leader, 'A man's got to do what a man's got to do.' And a country's got to do what a country's got to do. We have to defend ourselves."

Mr. Murphy said he certainly understands that tunnels are providing an immediate danger that Israel needs to take care of.

"But they need to weigh that against the long-term danger of continuing to provide this kind of recruiting tool to Hamas," he said.

Mr. Murphy also said new leadership in the region will be needed before any kind of long-term peace agreement can be reached.

A cease-fire deal is one thing, Mr. Murphy said, "but it's been pretty clear for a long time that you don't have the leadership right now either on the Israeli side or on the Palestinian side in order to do anything more than that."

"I think we are in a position of essentially waiting for new leadership on both sides in order to do anything more substantial on the peace process," he said.

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