Monday, July 21

John Kerry makes mic gaffe on Gaza

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry 

appeared to criticize Israel in candid remarks caught on an 

open microphone between television interviews Sunday.

Kerry was heard talking about Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza 

to a State Department official identified as Jonathan Finer 

just before appearing on the "Fox News Sunday" political 

talk show.

"I hope they don't think that's an invitation to go do more," 

Kerry says. "That better be the warning to them."

A frustrated Kerry then says: "It's a hell of a pinpoint 

operation, it's a hell of a pinpoint operation," in apparent 

frustration over the civilian toll in the Israeli operation.

The Palestinian death toll topped 500 on Sunday as Israel 

pressed a ground offensive into the densely packed Gaza 

Strip after two weeks of aerial attacks.

"We've got to get over there," Kerry is heard saying on the 

Sunday recording. "I think, Jon, we ought to go tonight. I 

think it's crazy to be sitting around. Let's go."

When confronted over the remarks by Fox host Chris 

Wallace, Kerry reiterated Israel's right to self-defense.

"I think it's very, very difficult in these situations, obviously 

very difficult," Kerry said.

"You have people who've come out of tunnels. You have a 

right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely 

support that. And we support Israel's right to defend itself 

against rockets that are continuing to come in. Hamas has 

started this process of rocketing, after Israel was trying to 

find the people who killed three young -- you know, one 

American kid, three young Israeli citizens. It's disgraceful," 

Kerry said.

"It’s tough to have this kind of operation. I reacted 

obviously in a way that ... anybody does with respect to 

young children and civilians.

"But war is tough, and I've said that publicly and I've said it 

again. We defend Israel's right to do what it is doing in 

order to get at those tunnels," Kerry said.

Kerry then urged Hamas to "step up and be reasonable and 

understand that you accept the cease-fire, you save lives."

Kerry traveled to Cairo early Monday for crisis talks on 

Gaza, following President Barack Obama's call for an 

"immediate ceasefire" between Israelis and Palestinians in 

the conflict.

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