Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt announces that he is leaving for the NBA during a press conference on June 12, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

David Blatt, the newly-appointed Cleveland Cavaliers coach who hit the NBA jackpot last month when LeBron James subsequently announced his return to the team, expressed his support for the Israel military operation in Gaza in a recent interview with Israeli newspaper Globes. The Boston native spent the past four seasons coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv, leading the team to their unexpected Euroleague victory in May, ending a long string of international coaching gigs and heading to the NBA.

Asked how he felt not being in Israel during Operation Protective Edge, the month-long conflict in which 64 IDF soldiers and more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed, he said, “That’s exactly what’s making me uncomfortable. I’ve always been in Israel at the hardest times. Since Operation Protective Edge began, I feel being in Israel is the most natural thing for me to do. My work is here, though, and I have to get ready for the coming season. It’s not easy for me when I’m constantly thinking about what’s happening in Israel.”

His children, he says, are all still based in Israel: his two eldest daughters recently finished their IDF service and are traveling, his son is playing basketball in the European Youth championship, and his youngest daughter is out of the country briefly. He’s planning a visit back to Israel to see them in August.

Do you support the operation?

Absolutely. In my opinion, this war is Israel’s most justified war I can remember in recent years. I’m really sorry about what’s happening in Gaza, but there’s no doubt that we had to act there, so that Israel will have quiet there once and for all, and we can live in peace.

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