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Former Israeli ambassador: Hamas using civilians to wage diplomatic war

Hamas is preventing civilians from fleeing designated combat zones in Gaza and using their deaths to diminish Israel on the world stage, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told Fox News Wednesday.

Palestinian authorities claimed that a United Nations school was hit by Israeli tank shells hours earlier, resulting in the deaths of 15 people and injuring 90, while Israel announced a four-hour cease-fire for parts of the Gaza Strip.

Appearing on "America's Newsroom," Oren described reports of large numbers of Palestinians being "taken out and shot" after attempting to flee Israeli military zones as part of Hamas' diplomatic strategy.

"Hamas doesn't think it can destroy Israel with its rockets and with its terror tunnels," Oren told co-host Martha MacCallum. "What it can do is drag Israel into a situation where we have to strike at Hamas. Hamas is hiding behind its civilian populations. Civilians get killed, bad images get put on television… and then that translates into diplomatic pressure on Israel and de-legitimization."  

Oren says Israel is determined to "break the cycle" of Hamas violence once and for all to save lives on both sides of the border.

"Israelis understand if we don't fight now, if we don't beat Hamas on the ground, we're going to face a stronger Hamas, a deadlier Hamas in another year or two," he said. "Actually, more Palestinians will suffer in that round than they're suffering now… The fight we're fighting is not just for Israel."

Oren also addressed the Israeli media's criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration, countering claims from Washington that Israel is not doing enough to prevent harm to civilians.

"I think we take immense risk to ourselves and I think we take measures that have never been taken by another army in history to try to reduce civilian casualties," he said. "We deserve more backing on that, if you ask me."

Today's guests

  • Byron York

    Chief political correspondent, The Washington Examiner; Fox News contributor

  • Stephen Sigmund

    Senior vice president, Global Strategy Group

  • Mercedes Schlapp

    Former media spokesperson, President George W. Bush

  • Howard Kurtz

    Host, "MediaBuzz"

  • Charlie Hurt

    Columnist, The Washington Times

  • KT McFarland

    Fox News national security analyst

  • Chris Wallace

    Host, "Fox News Sunday"

  • Chris Stirewalt

    Fox News digital politics editor

  • Susan Crabtree

    White House correspondent, The Washington Examiner

  • Julie Roginsky

    Fox News contributor

  • Guy Benson

    Political editor, Townhall.com; Fox News contributor