Q Does the United States support what Israel is doing in Gaza?
MR. SNOW: Let me be -- I'm going to be very precise on this, because, as you know, these things are reported carefully. The hostage-taking and the attacks by Hamas last weekend have precipitated the current events in Gaza. As we have said since the attack, Hamas should release and return the kidnapped Israeli soldier immediately. It's the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to stop all acts of violence and terror. Hamas has done the opposite: It's been complicit in perpetrating violence, terror and hostage-taking. Israel has the right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens. In any actions the government of Israel may undertake, the United States urges that it ensures that innocent civilians are not harmed, and also that it avoid the unnecessary destruction of property and infrastructure. All parties ought to take every measure to restore the security situation in Gaza.
Q And do we think that the Israeli response has been appropriate and within the limits that you're talking about?
MR. SNOW: I'm not going to characterize further than what I've told you. There's your statement of position.
Q But, Tony, the Israelis have bombed a power plant -- that harms innocent civilians. Haven't they, like, clearly gone beyond what you've just described here?
MR. SNOW: Again, I'm not going to get into operational details here. Let's just point out once again, you have the Israeli -- the Israeli forces are trying to reclaim somebody who is kidnapped and is being held hostage in Gaza, and they are doing what they can to return him. It would be a lot easier if the Palestinian Authority and if Hamas simply returned the kidnapped soldier. I am not going to get into rendering judgment on any of the operational details of what's going on there.
Q Palestinian leaders have called this "collective punishment." Is it, or isn't it?
MR. SNOW: Again, I will just simply refer to it. I'm not going to get into the midst of the characterizations. I'll repeat, the Palestinian Authority could make this very simple -- they could return the kidnapped soldier. And the most important thing is to try to restore some semblance of security as rapidly as possible, and we hope both sides will cooperate in that.