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Jan 05, 2009 at 02:24pm IST

We won't target citizens: Israel Foreign Min

New Delhi: Four Israelis have died in rocket attacks, and a soldier on Sunday became the first Israeli combatant to be killed in action since the ground assault began. Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that their forces are trying to minimise civilian casualties.

Tzipi Livni said, "We are trying to avoid civilian casualties even though its not easy, while Hamas is making our civilians a target."

The Palestinian authority has complained very bitterly about the disproportionate use of Israeli force. When asked what was his view on the proportionality, Livni said, "I would like to say that I do not understand what is the nature of proportionality which is needed. They targeted our school in Berschov in Israel last week. Do you think proportionate action is to target schools?"

THE RIGHT TO SELF DEFENCE: Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says they have decided not to retaliate at all.

"We are not going to do this. They are targetting civilians, but we are not going to do this. So the only measure we are taking is to help them understand that this needs to be stopped. This is the explanation of self defence, the rights of self defence of a state. We have decided not to target at all, we have decided not to retaliate at all. It didn't help. At the end of the day they need to understand that we are determined this time to change realities for our citizens," he further stated.

Meanwhile, the US says its closest ally in the Middle-East did not keep it informed. US Vice President Dick Cheney told a news channel, "Israel didn't seek clearance or approval from us. They haven't told me exactly what they planned to do or when they plan to do it. They probably decided that an air campaign wasn't enough to go after that terrorist organisation, that they had to go in on the ground if they were going to take down the rocket launching sites."

Cheney also added that while Washington is "concerned" about the plight of the Palestinians, any cessation in hostilities would have to be "sustainable" and "durable".

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