Gen. Martin Dempsey, America’s highest-ranking military officer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that Israel “went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties” during its summer war with the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza.
Dempsey’s assessment presents a stark contrast to that of Amnesty International, whose newly released report on the Gaza war accuses Israel of displaying “callous indifference” to civilian deaths.
“In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” Dempsey said during an appearance in New York at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Reuters reported.
Dempsey said Hamas’s network of terror tunnels running under the Gaza border into Israel was “very nearly a subterranean society.” Israel said it destroyed more than 30 such tunnels during its operation.
“[The tunnels] caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties… making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure,” Dempsey said, referring to the Israeli army’s practice of dropping leaflets that warned Gaza residents of impending strikes.