Saturday, Jan 11, 2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday “it’s hard” for Israeli troops to shield civilians in Gaza because the area is so densely populated and Hamas uses people as human shields.
“It is very difficult in circumstances like Gaza, which is a very densely populated area,” Rice told reporters when asked if Israel is living up to its humanitarian obligations during its two-week military offensive in Gaza.
“I might note it’s also an area in which Hamas participates in activities like human shields, using buildings that are not designated as military buildings to hide their fighters. So it’s hard,” Rice said.
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Rice has returned to Washington from New York where the United States abstained in a vote Thursday for a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
“I was encouraged that Prime Minister (Ehud) Olmert, after an extensive conversation we had, agreed to open a new humanitarian corridor,” Rice said.
“We’re going to continue to pass the Israelis information about what we’re hearing about the humanitarian situation on the ground,” she said, adding that the United States will continue to support efforts by humanitarian groups.
Earlier, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel blamed Hamas for the suffering in Gaza.