Bibi Netanyahu
US President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked US lawmakers to help Israeli officials defend a projected Palestinian legal campaign over alleged war crimes committed against the Gaza population.

It is believed that attempts will be made to bring Israel's military and political leaders in front of international courts such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Netanyahu made the remarks during a meeting with members of US Congress who are visiting Israel as guests on behalf of the US Israel lobby AIPAC.

"The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the ICC does not succeed," Republican senator Steve Israel said.

Netanyahu "wants the US to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held to a double standard," the congressman said.

In his first press conference of the 72-hour ceasefire, Netanyahu told international journalists that Israel had taken "extraordinary measures" to avoid civilian casualties during 'Operation Protective Edge'.

He added the point: "Do terrorists have immunity because of the fear that some civilians may get hurt?"

"Imagine your territory is infiltrated by death squads. What would you do? What would you demand your government do to protect you and your family? What if the rockets are fired from civilian areas? Should you then not take action?"

"Mounting evidence" of war crimes

The IDF has started to prepare for a legal challenge as international opinion begins to turn on the country for shelling several UN schools where Palestinian civilians were ordered to take refuge from the conflict.

Human rights NGO Amnesty International, however, said that there is "mounting evidence" that the IDF conducted "deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza".

Human Rights Watch (HRW) have also claimed that Israeli forces "fired on" fleeing civilians in "deliberate" attacks on those not participating in the fighting.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has said there is a "strong possibility" that Israel is violating international law and had committed war crimes in Gaza.

The UN Human Rights Council recently voted in favour of creating a committee to investigate the allegations. Only the United States voted against its creation while European Union member states abstained.

Palestinians have long-held the leverage of taking Israel to the international courts but these efforts have been delayed as any potential legal challenge may be met by a counter-legal effort from Israel, possibly implicating some Palestinian leaders in the firing of rockets at Israel's civilian population.

However, this challenge now seems imminent as it is clear that Israel has more to lose in any investigation in comparison with the leaders of a designated terrorist organisation such as Hamas.

According to Palestinian officials, the death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,886 with 9,806 injured. The Israeli military has confirmed that 61 IDF soldiers were killed in their ground and air operation as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai national.