as hostilities enter their fifth day, over 100 people have been killed in gaza and seven in israel. now the israeli defence forces say they have intensified their assault on the gaza strip but have said ground troops have not entered the territory. in india more than 4,000 people have died from coronvirus in the last 2a hours alone and hospitals in many parts of the country are being overrun, as the country records nearly as many coronavirus cases, as the rest of the world combined. the number of cases of the indian covid variant have more than doubled in the uk in the past week. more than 1300 cases have been reported in england and the prime minister says the government is ruling nothing out in tackling the situation.
now on bbc news, it's hardtalk with stephen sackur welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. here we are again, reporting an escalating conflict between israel and the islamic militant groups who run the gaza strip. in some ways, it looks like a rerun of the summer war of 2014, which left more than 2,000 palestinians dead, along with 67 israeli soldiers and six israeli civilians. but there are differences this time, not least because communal violence has spilled into towns inside israel, prompting fears of civil war. my guest is israel's ambassador in the uk, and former minister, tzipi hotovely. can the spiral of violence be stopped?
ambassador tzipi hotovely, welcome to hardtalk. hi, it's great to be here. what is israel's strategic objective right now? is it to restore quiet on that southern front with the gaza strip or does it go much deeper? is it to destroy the military capability of the islamic militant groups? well, the first thing is definitely true. we want to restore quiet. just yesterday, we had another night that most israelis spent in shelters. from my personal experience, my family, they all live in the centre of israel and they all spent it in shelters. my mother is over 60.
she had to go to a shelter for the first, time, you know, for many years that she had to go through this experience. and my eldest daughter, maayan, she's seven and she's zooming with herfriends in israel. all her class was in shelters because children are... you know, hamas is targeting our children and we need to protect ourselves. and i have a sense that every government that would have been in the same position — parliament being fired with rockets, the israeli parliament was evacuated just two days ago — would have done the same. if you want the rush to the shelters to stop, you want safety for the israeli population, surely then you should want an urgent ceasefire. but all the signs are, from your own government in israel, there is absolutely no interest in getting to a ceasefire. benny gantz, the defence minister, says, "the army will continue to attack, buildings "will continue to crumble. "
your prime minister says, "this isjust the beginning. "we're going to hit them with strikes "they have never dreamed of." where's the intent for a ceasefire there? i didn't say anything about ceasefire. i was speaking about a sustainable solution for our population, for the people of israel. the people of israel deserve to live in peace, to go to work, to go to school without having this fearing of the fact that rockets will be in the streets again. so i think what the government wants is to make sure that the capabilities of hamas will be harmed. and we're doing everything in our power to, you know, to minimise casualties, but we are doing everything in our power also to hurt the leadership, the military leadership of hamas, this jihadi terror organisation. as we speak, more than 80 palestinians have been killed, including 17 under 18,17 children. you tell me that, "we're doing
everything in our power "to avoid civilian casualties." patently, that is not working, so you need to change, don't you? you need to avoid this terrible level of collateral damage. how are you going to do that? well, stephen, you know, because you served in israel, so you know how those terror organisations are behaving. they're using women and children as human shields. they're building their, you know, all their headquarters inside of regular buildings. so, israel, what israel is doing, as you know, before we go on attack, we actually deliver a message to all civilians and to tell to the palestinians in gaza, israel is going to attack in a certain point. so, everyone knows. everyone can, you know, get free. people are not in our fire, and we want to hurt those terrorists. and this is our duty as a democratic country defending its people. i'm going to quote to you, not an outside organisation, but an internal israeli organisation, b'tselem, a leading human rights group inside your country who have said, "bombing apartment towers," which we have seen —
we have seen it for ourselves in the last 48 hours "bombing apartment towers which are not "a military target, leaving dozens of families homeless, "that," they say, "is a war crime." who is committing a war crime at the moment is hamas. and it's actually committing double war crime. once, it's using, you know, civilian facilities in order to shoot and launch rockets on population in israel. and second civil crime and a war crime is the fact they are shooting and targeting children. israel is targeting only military targets. i can stand behind that. we've just established you are targeting civilian buildings, apartment towers. no, we're not. we are targeting civilian buildings after we announce that we're going to target them. that means that all civilians can go. and we are targeting places where hamas is locating their headquarters. so we can say very clearly israel is working according
to international law and israel is doing everything in its power to minimise casualties. you used to be a politician in netanyahu's government, yes. as a diplomat, i guess you have to listen very carefully to the messages being delivered from right around the world. it is interesting what is being said, not least in washington, dc. while president biden has announced his unwavering support for israel's right of self—defence, and that came as no surprise, it was interesting that his secretary of state, tony blinken, added this. he says, israel has "an extra burden, a particular obligation "to avoid civilian casualties." you're failing to meet that measure right now. i think every democratic country, including britain when you were fighting in afghanistan, including the americans when they were fighting in iraq and afghanistan — every country, democratic country that is dealing with terror organisations, you know how they're dealing with their population. they're building their military infrastructure in internal...
..internal, the population. and, you know, that part of the fact that we're fighting them is to make sure that the world will realise that the middle east at the moment is in the middle of a huge political debate between the hamas and the palestinian authority. and this is my question — is the international community, is going to support the radicals, hamas? recognised terror organisation by the uk and by united states and more countries. 0r it's going to support people that actually want to think about coexistence. i'm here to say israel is for coexistence, not for having a war. and we're fighting only because one reason. let me ask you a question... because rockets are being fired on our cities. yes, and you very powerfully evoked the feeling of israelis living with rocket fire coming down, going to the shelters. you talked about your own family. just as an individual, as a human being, not as a diplomat, just imagine for a moment that you live in gaza. imagine you are the parent of one of those 17 children killed in the last 72 hours
by the israeli bombardment. what do you think that's going to do to your attitude toward israel? do you think that's going to make you more amenable to this peaceful coexistence you talk about? or do you think it's going to fuel your anger, your determination to do whatever you can to change the dynamic in the middle east? let me answerfor you, as a mother. i'm a mother of young children, so every loss of a child is a tragedy. but you need to understand that hamas stands behind the loss of those children in gaza. first of all, from a technical reason, some of those rockets are being misfired, and the kids being killed in gaza is a result of those rockets being fired on israel. the second reason is the fact they're using those kids as human shields. so i can tell you, we feel very bad about every loss of human life, but it's important to understand... how far are you prepared to go? but it's important to understand the only reason we don't have hundreds of kids being killed in israel is the fact that israel invested major amount of money in iron dome. and iron dome is... keeps on working every
single day and night in order to prevent our kids to be killed. hamas didn't do the same. so what's an acceptable level... ? hamas in a cynical way is actually using these kids and putting them in the front. what's an acceptable level of collateral damage going forward from here? we understand the israeli army is gathering on the gaza border. there is real discussion in israel about if and when a ground offensive will come. we know what happened in 2014. yes. more than 2,000 palestinians were ultimately killed in that summer war, 550 of them were children. are we looking at that level of bloodshed? that high a price you are prepared to inflict on the palestinians, to do what you want to do to hamas? stephen, i'm so sad. i'm so sad that you're even mentioning the fact that... this bloodshed is a result of a radical ideology in the middle east. it's not the result of our values. our values is democracy, human rights. we want our people
to live in peace. i'm talking about your strategy, your intent, and what you are prepared to do. i would like to answer. look, i asked just very few days ago, i was sitting five minutes away from westminster and i asked what would have happened in britain if rockets would have been fired on the british parliament. and i didn't hear even one british person that said britain should have just, you know, sat in peace and quiet doing nothing, so everyone can understand that israel at the moment is a country under attack, is a country under fire, and we're fighting a terror organisation. we're not fighting, you know, a peaceful country. we're fighting cruel terror organisation. leave aside... so we need to fight. understood. leave aside the legality of how israel conducts its operations. the international criminal court has said it will investigate what is happening right now, just as they have investigated war crime allegations going back to the 2014 war. and the un has indeed also talked about war crimes committed by israel and hamas going back to 2014. so there is that legal aspect... i don't accept that.
well, you may not accept it, but everything i've just said is the truth. the only organisations that are committing war crimes are the terror organisations. well, you read the... israel is a democratic country... ..un report after the 2014 war. ..that is fighting according to international law. let me give you this quote from benjamin netanyahu after the 2014 massive offensive. he proclaimed, "we've destroyed their network of attack tunnels "built over many years. we've destroyed approximately 1,000 "terrorists, including the top command. "the blow that hamas has now taken is unprecedented "since it was founded." here we are, seven years later. israel's strategy is not working. i can tell you that, when you're dealing with cruel terror organisations and you want to keep human rights and you want to make sure that you won't have massive killing, you need to make sure that, when you work on a military basis, you work only for one reason — to defend your people. so, we're doing our best in order to defend our people. we're sending our soldiers to fight. my point is, it's not working.
this is what i'm trying to say. listen to what your own idf commanders are saying — as early as february of this year, they were saying that hamas and islamichhad have amassed an arsenal of, i think, 13,000 rockets between them. so, let me... we know that they now have higher—tech equipment, including anti—tank weapons they've never had before. netanyahu proclaimed he'd basically destroyed their military capability after the last offensive. he may well do the same after this offensive. this is fruitless, it's not working. israel needs a different strategy. so, all i can tell you is, when we're dealing with radicals being sponsored by iran and getting the backup of iran, it sometimes can come back to you. but you need to remember, we had a few years of absolutely quiet and this is what we need. we need quiet in israel. we need the fact that our citizens can go to work quietly and peacefully. and i think what we're doing is the best for our citizens in order to bring peace back.
but we're dealing with radicals. i mean, you cannot negotiate with a terror organisation. i assume britain doesn't think that terror organisation is something you can negotiate with. so, all you can do is to fight back and defend your people, which is the legitimate thing that israel has been doing. there's a big difference this time around. you, in all of your answers thus far, have focused on hamas and islamichhad. the truth is, the difference this time is that the sense of confrontation has spread far beyond gaza and far beyond those militant islamic groups. what we see today inside your country are towns and cities, mixed towns and cities, where arab israelis, jewish israelis live side by side, where there is now communal violence and hate on the streets and people are attacking and fighting each other. it is symptomatic of the degree of anger that israeli arabs feel because of what they've seen happen injerusalem in recent weeks, what they now see happening in gaza. this is uniting israeli
arabs and palestinians. i could tell you how much i'm concerned from that. i'm really, really concerned from that. i grew up in lod, this city in the middle of israel, five minutes away from tel aviv, five minutes away from our airport. and we lived in a great coexistence, arabs and jews. jerusalem is a city of peace and a city of coexistence. what we have seen this week is actually the result of a horrible incitement of hamas leadership. and we can see more and more people in the palestinian street trying to take this radicalism also to break and shatter the coexistence that israel has been building for over 70 years. and all i can tell you about that, that i'm calling arab leadership, condemn this horrible violence, condemn those horrible things we've seen. you know, the mayor of lod said it was kristallnacht the other night, when we saw synagogues on fire, when we saw holy places on fire.
and what do you think he said when he saw the arab car driver being dragged from his car and being beaten to a pulp on the street? what do you think he called that? i can tell you what all israeli leaders said. all israeli leaders condemn that. and we are condemning every type of violence because we're against violence. and i can tell you that this is a thing i heard from the right wingers, from the left wingers. this is a consensus in israel. i would love to hear the same from the arab leadership. you know why israeli arabs, they call themselves palestinians, but are defined by you as israeli arabs, you know why they are angry. you know why they are furious and will not take it any more, because they see what is happening in the city they regard as their holiest — and also the capital
of a future palestinian state — jerusalem, they see what has happened in recent weeks. they see the eviction of palestinian families because jewish settlers are going to take their homes in a neighbourhood called sheikh jarrah, just south of the old city, on occupied land. they see a system which systematically discriminates stephen, you can do better than that. all part of this question was a complete lie, complete untruth. let's go over this question. ok, so let's start with jerusalem. jerusalem is the capital of israel, united as it is, will never be divided again. this is a matter of fact since 1967... people watching this will be tired of arguments about this, you regard it as your eternal, undivided capital, eastjerusalem is legally regarded as occupied land. this is the policy. the second thing is, you cannot buy this excuse. the sheikh jarrah issue is a legal case, it's been going on for years, almost ten years. this is the pure excuse of hamas. i look at temple mount. let me speak about this holy place... let me stop you, if i may... if you want me to explain, i will give you an explanation.
i want to give you and our viewers some context. let me give you quotes from two deputy mayors ofjerusalem, quotes which stick in the throat of israeli arabs as well as palestinians living in eastjerusalem and the occupied territories. arieh king, one of those deputy mayors ofjerusalem, said policies to evict palestinians are, quote, "the way to secure the future ofjerusalem "as a jewish capital for the jewish people. "of course," he said, "there is a plan in place for layers "ofjews to be placed throughout eastjerusalem." you could not be more explicit, could you, about what the israeli strategy is. the man you're quoting is notjerusalem's mayor. with all the respect, it was nir barkat, ehud 0lmert and teddy kollek, the last mayors ofjerusalem. i never said he was the mayor, he's the deputy mayor. i can tell you that all leaders ofjerusalem, all the mayors ofjerusalem, were working on coexistence betweenjews and arabs. and this is the policy of this mayor, moshe lion, this was the policy of mir barkat. all mayors were doing anything in their power to make the city united.
and you can see more and more arabs living everywhere injerusalem and you can see jews that want to live together with arabs because this is a city of peace. since 1967, israel did anything to have freedom of worship... i don't know how any of your words square with the reality of what's happening injerusalem... this is the reality. ..whether it be the controls put on the numbers of people who could get into al—aqsa to pray, whether it be the fact that the idf, your security personnel, then entered the compound and opened fire with rubber bullets on worshipers, or whether it be this this eviction programme in sheikh jarrah, all of these things put together tell palestinians and israeli arabs that they do indeed, as human rights watch and others have said, live in an apartheid system where they are the second—class citizens. ok, so let's speak about temple mount. just today, we had 80,000 muslims praying on temple mount. during ramadan, 80,000 muslims could go every single day. now, let me tell you who's really discriminated. 0njerusalem day, a holiday in israel, official day,
the government made a very, very unpopular decision — jews were not allowed to go in temple mount. believe me, there is no single jew that thought that this is a popular decision. jews were discriminated to go on temple mount. you know why? because israeli government was doing anything to reduce tension, anything to make sure that it would de—escalate. but it's actually hamas that provocates time after time, they were abusing this holy place, having those piles of rocks in order to throw them on people, on innocent people that came to pray in the western wall. now tell me who is the provocateur. it's hamas. you know what your government has done... hamas is the provocateur and we don't need to back up here ideological radicals. your government has overseen a situation where your own prime minister now talks about lynchings on the streets,
jew on arab, arab onjew. your president, mr rivlin, also fears civil war. how can it be that an israeli government can oversee such a catastrophe in your own country? i can tell you that this is really something, we need to do, anything, anything in order to go back to the... i'm asking you to think hard about how it has come to this pass, you're not doing that. i'm giving you the answer. so, the answer is political from the palestinian side. so, as far as you're concerned, it is absolutely all the palestinians�* fault? this is something we are discussing about israel, inside israel, not something that's happening in gaza, this is something happening in israel. if people, if radicals, if islamist radicals are stabbing people in the streets of london, would you blame the british government for that? if someone is being violent on the streets of london, would you blame the british government for that? come on. there are certain things you need to remember are also part of a political debate in the palestinian society, and i would like to go back to that. there was a political debate around the fact that abu mazen decided to cancel palestinian election.
there is no democratic process among palestinians. they keep on cancelling their election time after time because hamas is getting stronger. so, hamas was really upset from that and they've decided to use those holy days and this holy site in order to propagate, in order to incite, and you see the results on the ground. so, when those people, when those rioters, are using temple mount in order to throw rocks, when those people are using violence in the streets, you need to blame them and you need tojoin me calling their leadership to come and bring back coexistence. you talk of leadership, one profound problem your country has is that it has no clear leadership. benjamin netanyahu is caretaking as prime minister. his rival, yair lapid, has been given a month to form a government. your entire political situation is in a mess. and in that vacuum, it seems mr netanyahu sees war as his best bet for staying in office. what a poisonous atmosphere there is in your country today.
no israeli prime minister is interested in a war, definitely not benjamin netanyahu. you can check his record. he is the israeli prime minister that was involved in less wars than any other. are you denying to me that your country is in a terrible political mess? we have a very, very problematic political situation. i totally agree with you that this is not the way israeli politics should go. but netanyahu's leadership at the moment, especially on crisis times, i think it's really by far... netanyahu hanging onto power is keeping him out of a courtroom, where he faces trial on corruption. no, you're asking me about the political process or about neta nyahu trial. we can answer... well, the two are interlinked. no, they're not, because the political crisis at the moment is the fact israeli politics is not divided any more for right and left.
you can see a majority of right—wing parties winning election, but they don't want to form a government on a personal level with neta nyahu. it has nothing to do to ideology, it's more of a personal politics, as you know. but when it comes to netanyahu's leadership on crisis times, i think he has proven always responsibility. never in the past he was eager to get into a war. i think, even today, he was restraining the government in order to do anything to de—escalate. and, unfortunately, the radicals on the other side, those people that are not interested in any kind of political solution, all they want is to have islamic state instead of israel. they are the one we're dealing with. and this is why we need the international community to stand next to israel and help us to protect ourselves in this difficult moment. ambassador tzipi hotovely, we have to end there. thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you. hoping for better days and for peaceful days.
hello. there's been no shortage of wet weather this week and there is plenty more where that came from as we head towards the weekend. thursday was a particularly soggy affair across some southern areas. you can see this curl of cloud on the satellite picture — a slow—moving weather system that brought heavy and persistent rain. there is more cloud behind me in the atlantic — another area of low pressure heading our way for the weekend. in between, well, arguably, a slice of slightly drier weather. there will still be some showers and actually, as we go through the day, the showers will tend to pop up in the areas where we develop some sunshine, so across northern ireland, eventually western parts of scotland, north—west england, wales, the south—west. it will turn into a sunshine and showers day after a dull start for some.
but for eastern england and certainly the north—east of scotland, we will hold on to more cloud. where we have more of the cloud, well, there won't be so many showers but it will feel chilly — 11 or 12 degrees — and there could be the odd spot of drizzle around at times. now, as we head through friday night into saturday, some bits and pieces of showery rain will be replaced by a band of more persistent rain pushing up from the south—west across england, wales, into northern ireland by the end of the night. quite a mild start to the weekend but it is going to be quite a turbulent weekend of weather, actually, with some very, very heavy downpours and thunderstorms, always with some sunny spells in between. 0ur band of rain will continue to push its way slowly northwards during saturday, perhaps getting up into the south of scotland by the end of the day. behind it, sunshine and showers, but those showers really will start to turn very, very heavy for wales and the south—west, with hail and thunder later on. top temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees. and then, we head on into sunday, and this area of low pressure is going to move right across the uk. as this sits on top of us during sunday, it will allow for some very unstable conditions in the atmosphere. that means big shower clouds
are going to develop with some hail and some thunder, frequent lightning potentially in these showers, torrential downpours of rain and some pretty squally, gusty winds. particularly windy for coasts of southern england and the channel islands — gusts here in excess of 40 mph. but in any sunshine between the showers, not feeling too bad — highs of 16 degrees.
hello. this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. israel has moved armed forces to its border with gaza as palestinian rockets target civilian areas in central and southern israel. a bbc investigation reveals how charities are being prevented from treating covid patients in india. and as the indian variant spreads, uk ministers consider bringing forward second vaccine doses. uk travel restrictions ease next week, but there's uncertainty for british holidaymakers planning travel to portugal. and a meteorite which caused quite a commotion earlier this year goes on display at london's natural history museum.