MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is likely to become a dragged-out war, Israel’s ambassador to Russia Dorit Golender said Wednesday, commenting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning of “a protracted campaign.”
“Right, our prime minister voiced it yesterday. We hope the operation will be as short as possible and the operation will claim few victims. Obviously, the prime minister knows the situation,” Golender told journalists at the press conference.
The ambassador also stressed that according to a poll, “87 percent of the Israelis want and demand that the operation accomplishes its goals.” Golender denied accusations that Israel shelled a UN school in the Gaza Strip overnight, killing at least 20 people taking shelter in the building.
“After the investigation carried out by the Israeli Army, it was established that the school was hit when nobody was inside. Thus, Israel shrug off responsibility for those allegedly killed by Israel during the shelling,” Golender said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a protracted war in Gaza.
"We need to be prepared for a protracted campaign. We will continue to act with force and discretion until our mission is accomplished," the prime minister said, adding that Israeli troops would not leave Gaza until the Hamas' tunnel network is destroyed.
On July 8 Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to put an end to rocket fire from Gaza and undermine the Hamas movement, which dominates the Gaza Strip. On July 17, the Israeli Army launched a ground assault, largely aimed at locating and destroying underground tunnels dug by militants to sneak into Israel and transport weapons.
According to Al Mezan, at least 1,194 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge and ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, including 282 children and 147 women. Seventy-nine percent of the casualties were civilians. Additionally, at least 4,960 were injured during the same period.