Israel defends airstrikes in Gaza: 'We are not fighting for our image'

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A spokesman for the Israeli government defended his country’s offensive into Gaza on Monday, admitting that “the optics” of the airstrike campaign and ground offensive are “bad,” but that the country is not concerned with the way things look.

“You’re right, the optics are bad, but we are not fighting for our image, we are fighting for survival,” Eylon Levy told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo on Monday.

The Israel-Hamas war began early last month after Hamas militants launched a brutal surprise attack on border settlements, killing about 1,200 people and taking another 200 hostage. 

“The optics of the Oct. 7 massacre are even worse — 1,200 people who were brutally executed, butchered, beheaded, burned,” Levy countered. “Many of them tortured and mutilated before they were killed, their bodies mutilated after they were killed.”

“That is what we are fighting against, and our right to self-defense, our duty of self-defense is to eliminate the terrorist organization that did that,” he added.

More than 11,100 Palestinians have died in the subsequent war, including over 4,600 children, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, leading to criticism of the Israeli government over how it has conducted the military operation.

The Biden administration, which has strongly backed Israel in the conflict, has pushed its government to better allow humanitarian aid access into Gaza.

Israel agreed to four-hour “humanitarian pauses” in fighting in order to allow civilians to flee areas of conflict last week, but the Biden administration has lobbied for longer pauses as negotiations over hostage releases continue with Qatar as a mediator.

Fighting in Gaza has centered on Gaza City, the largest settlement in the territory, and specifically on the city’s hospitals in recent days. The Israeli military has claimed that Hamas militants use hospitals as command posts and access points to underground tunnel systems, which both Hamas and hospital administrators have denied.

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