Lt. Col. Peter Lerner definitively denied Israeli targeting of U.N. facilities and encouraged a refocus on Hamas while speaking with the BBC Wednesday. His statements come after a U.N. school was struck by a missile, allegedly fired by the Isreali military, killing 16 people earlier that day.
"Sometimes, in this type of conflict, there are and there can be civilian casualties. It is not an intention and it is most important to understand we definitely do not target U.N. facilities," said Lerner.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that the bombing was "outrageous" and "unjustifiable" and called for an immediate cease-fire. Israel has claimed, as Lerner reiterated, that Hamas is hiding weapons in U.N. shelters and schools, using civilians as human shields for its weapon stores. U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his concern to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the high number of civilian casualties, encouraging Israel to try and prevent such incidents in the future.
"We are operating under the understanding that there is and there are a possibility of civilians in the area, but we are going to great lengths to minimize that impact," Lerner told the BBC.
Lerner pointed out that Hamas has attempted to pin certain bombings on Israelis, which upon further investigation were proven to be Palestinian rockets.
The U.N. is highly confident that the Israeli military is responsible for the school bombing.