Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (AP/Bryan R. Smith)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touted Israel’s right to defend itself after her Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders called Israel’s response against Hamas “disproportionate.”

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Clinton said that when “your soldiers are under attack, you have to respond.”

“Hamas provokes Israel. They often pretend to have people in civilian garb acting as though they are civilians who are Hamas fighters,” said Clinton. “It’s a very different undertaking for Israel to target those who are targeting them. And I think Israel has had to defend itself, has a right to defend itself.”

Sanders has been criticized by some Israeli officials for his comments on Israel during an interview with the New York Daily News, which included Sanders overestimating the number of civilians who were killed in the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel. The remarks have drawn a lot of attention as the two compete for Jewish-American voters, a significant bloc of voters in New York, site of an April 19 Democratic primary.

But he defended his contention that Israel responded disproportionately to the attacks from Gaza.

“Of course we’re going to support Israel, but you cannot ignore the needs of the Palestinian people,” Sanders said on CNN. “We will not succeed to ever bring peace in that region unless we also treat the Palestinians with dignity and respect.”

By: Jeremy Herb, Politico