Ex-NSA Chief Hayden: Israelis Have 'Legitimate' Goal in Gaza

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 01:34 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The Israelis have a "legitimate" goal in their effort to locate and destroy tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel, said Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency.

Though the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas had a case for the "unarguable human suffering" caused by hundreds of civilian deaths since Israeli troops began their occupation of Gaza on July 17, Israel had a "tactical objective," Hayden told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

The Israeli campaign is "legally and morally legitimate, and they probably need a couple more days to achieve that which they set out to accomplish," Hayden, a retired Air Force general, said Tuesday.

Story continues below video.

Hayden said Israeli soldiers called the campaign "mowing the grass," as they worked to set Hamas "back for an extended period of time," rather than "totally disable" them. He said the Israelis felt they had "made good progress against" locating the tunnels.

As for the situation in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, Hayden said he thinks the strength of the Ukrainian army surprised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I think Putin was taken aback by the strength of the Ukrainian military response beginning in late June and into early July," he said.

Hayden said it could have been panic among Russian officials that caused them to decide to push "Russian heavy weaponry into the hands of the separatists, including these SA-11 surface-to-air missiles."

It is suspected that a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists downed a Malaysia Airlines passenger airplane July 17 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board.

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