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Israeli leader thanks Christian supporters

Monday - 7/21/2014, 10:49pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel appreciates Christian support as it fights to stop rocket attacks from Gaza.

The Israeli leader spoke by video link to thousands of members of Christians United for Israel at their annual conference in Washington.

Netanyahu said, "You don't fall into the trap of saying, 'Well of course we recognize Israel's right of self-defense' as long as we don't exercise it."

Netanyahu said Hamas and other Islamic groups hate both Jews and Christians, and he told the group that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith.

The founder of Christians United for Israel, the Rev. John Hagee (HAG'-ee), said they'll support the people of Israel "now and forever."

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