During a news conference with reporters at the State Department Wednesday, President Obama said he has “no sympathy” for the Palestinian group Hamas, but did mention he sympathizes with the people of Gaza.
Hamas is group fighting with the Israeli military in war-torn Gaza. They have been labeled as a terrorist organization by the United States.
“I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza,” Obama said at a news conference, when asked if he agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza was both “justified” and “proportionate.”
“I have said from the beginning that no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities,” he said. “As a consequence, I have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks.”
Obama has stood firm in his support of Israel throughout the month-long fighting, which has resulted in the death of 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
He also spoke briefly about Gaza’s 72-hour ceasefire, which for now seems to be holding to give the people of Gaza a chance to survey the damage done to their homes and return to some semblance of life without war.
“The U.S. goal right now would be to make sure that the ceasefire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope and so the people of Israel feel confident that they’re not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches that we’ve seen over the last several weeks,” Obama said.
The President’s comments come just days after the State Department criticized Israel for a Sunday attack on a UN school that killed 10.