President Shimon Peres was visiting wounded IDF troops in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva on Monday and exchanged with them some of his insights on the results of Operation Cast Lead.
"When I'm asked on [the operation's consequences for] Israel's public image, I answer we need to stay alive," the president said.
Speaking to reporters while walking between hospital beds and thanking wounded soldiers for their bravery, Peres responded to international voices that said Israel was using disproportionate force in Gaza. "I ask the anti-Israel demonstrators - where were you during the eight years when Jews living around Gaza were constantly bombarded? Why didn't we hear you then?"
He said Israelis should not pay any attention to declarations of victory coming out of Gaza and maintained that Israel won the campaign. "The terror groups brag as we expected them to, but victory is ours. [Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah also claims he has won [in the 2006 Second Lebanon War], but since then he is only singing. He says their power has trebled, he sits and talks but he dares not fight. We can book him for performances."