(JTA) – The United States’ top military chief said Israel went to “extraordinary lengths” to avoid civilian casualties in its summer war with Hamas in Gaza.
General Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest ranking military officer in the United States, made the statement Thursday at an event organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York, Voice of America reported.
“I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Dempsey said in responding to a question from the audience during the event.
He called civilian deaths from the conflict “tragic,” but he added that Israeli forces “did what they could” during the 50-day war, which began July 8 and ended with a cease-fire in August.
A report released this week by the human rights group Amnesty International said Israel carried out an “unprecedented number of attacks on inhabited homes,” causing an “appalling” scale of death and destruction.
Israel has rejected the report’s findings.
The United Nations estimates that 1,523 Palestinian civilians and six Israeli civilians were killed in the Gaza conflict.