Israeli soldiers who fought in Operation Cast Lead need not worry about international lawsuits charging them with war crimes, because Israel would do its utmost to protect them from such legal matters, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday. "The soldiers did not embark on a private operation," the defense minister said during an interview on Channel 2. "We will give them out full support." He added that it was not the soldiers who were responsible for the civilian casualties during the past three weeks, but rather Hamas. "They were the ones who were firing from within the civilian population," Barak said, adding that Israel may be the only army in the world which goes to such great lengths to try and prevent collateral damage.