Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“You cannot fight people who are innocent civilians. If you deliberately target civilians, that’s a war crime.” said the Israeli premier.

As a tenuous ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad was in place on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a visiting delegation from the Washington-based AIPAC pro-Israel bobby group in Jerusalem that there is no moral equivalence between Israeli policy and tactics employed by the terror group, which attacked Israel with hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip over the past few days.

The latest wave of Palestinian aerial attacks came after Israel killed Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al Ata in an airstrike early Tuesday morning. Israel has stated that it timed its targeted killing of the terror mastermind to a moment in which virtually all civilians, including children, had left his immediate surroundings, and he remained apparently only with his wife.

The prime minister argued in his appearance on Thursday that while Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties, Palestinian terrorists deliberately put civilians in harm’s way.

By international law, he said, one “cannot fight people who are innocent civilians. You [might] cross that line accidentally, but you can’t cross it deliberately. If you deliberately target civilians, that’s a war crime.”

Netanyahu charged that Palestinian terrorists “target our cities; they target Ashkelon, as they did today. They target the communities around Gaza. They target Tel Aviv. They target Jerusalem. They deliberately target civilians. That’s a war crime.

“Now, they commit a second war crime. They not only target civilians, they hide behind civilians in civilian areas so that they know that we, who are trying to avoid hitting civilians, will not hit them in their places of hiding. So they’re committing a double war crime. They’re targeting civilians and they’re hiding behind civilians, trying to basically receive a safe situation where they can keep on doing this,” said the Israeli prime minister.

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