Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip were a "product of circumstance", Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Monday.
"We had to carry out this operation. I am at peace with the fact that we did it," Livni, a centrist who is running for prime minister in a Feb. 10 election, told Israel Radio.
Israel's Gaza offensive, launched on Dec. 27 and suspended on Sunday, killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and wounded 5300.
Asked about the civilian death toll, Livni said, "it was a product of circumstance."
At the same time, she blamed Hamas for the death of Gazans Israel killed in heavy bombardments.
"it can happen that civilians are sometimes 'hurt' in the fight against terror," she said.
Livni's words came as the civilian deaths sparked public outcry abroad and prompted senior U.N. officials to demand independent investigations into possible Israel-committed war crimes.
Palestinians have demanded international prosecution of Israel's military massacres.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has no jurisdiction to investigate in the Gaza Strip, as it is not a state.
And while Israel has not signed the Rome Statute that enshrined the ICC, it can still be investigated, but that would require a U.N. Security Council mandate. Any such proposal would likely be vetoed by the United States.
Some European nations allow for war-crimes lawsuits to be filed privately against Israelis.
Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said the military was warning its top brass to think twice about travelling to Europe.
Most Gazans tried to take shelter in UN-run buildings, but there was no reliable escape from Israel heavy bombardments, especially as U.N. schools serving as havens were repeatedly shelled by Israel.
Medical workers and human rights groups have also accused Israel of use of artillery rounds containing white phosphorous, which can cause grave burns.
Israel also violated a principle of "proportionality".
Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2009, 12:57