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
"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,"
"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