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Naming Israel's incursion into Gaza Operation Cast Lead was a public relations faux pas, a top government spokesman said on Wednesday.

"I didn't like the name," Mark Regev, the prime minister's spokesman for international media, told a crowd of some 150 listeners in English. "From a public relations point of view, it was a mistake."

Regev, who immigrated to Israel from Australia in 1982, said at the Modi'in municipality, "The Israel Defense Forces chooses its names by some computer or by some system which I don't understand. And the truth is that the Hebrew name Oferet Yetzuka [referring to Hanukkah dreidels] sounds lovely. It's the translation into English which sounds inappropriate."

Regev, 49, added that whenever he spoke to international media, he "never once said 'Cast Lead' because it has connotations in English that are problematic," opting instead for "the Gaza Operation" to describe the attack, which came in response to rocket fire from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilians.

"The English translation wasn't the most effective way to get our message out and it's an important point because if you can control the terminology of the debate, you can win the debate," he said.

The IDF Spokesperson reacted to Regev's statement by saying: "Mark Regev's opinion is legitimate."

Negative reporting abroad about Israel, Regev also said, relies on the openness of Israeli society and the self-critical nature reflected in its local media.

"This is a core value of our society. But our neighbors don't share it," he said.