Under Fire, Israel Strikes Back at Gaza Terrorists
During a weekend period of less than 48 hours, at least 150 rockets were fired at cities, schools and other civilian population centers in southern Israel from what the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs called “densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip, including Bet Lahiya, Jabaliya, Rafah, Gaza, and El-Bureij. Ashdod, Be’ersheba, Yavne, Netivot and Ashkelon, and the Eshkol and Shaar Hanegev regions have been hit. The Iron Dome System has successfully intercepted “about 90%” of the missiles; however four Israelis have been wounded.
On Friday, a combined IDF-ISA strike targeted and killed Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi, and Mahmud Ahmed Mahmud Hananni, members of the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization. The IAF confirmed a direct hit. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson says the PRC “was responsible for planning a combined terror attack that was to take place via the Sinai Peninsula and the Israel-Egypt border in the coming days.”
From Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu avowed: “We will continue to hit whoever plans to attack citizens of the State of Israel. At the same time, we will continue to improve home front defense including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend.”
In New York, speaking on behalf of its member organizations, Richard B. Stone, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations condemned the rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, saying in a statement, “It is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of people, up to a million, live under constant threat of terrorist attack using mortars and rockets as well as cross-border assaults. The Palestinian terrorist groups… seek to kill indiscriminately and bring normal life and commerce to a standstill. Schools have had to be closed and an entire region had to spend this weekend, as they have countless nights, in bunkers. No country can or should have to tolerate such a situation. Israel must do whatever it deems appropriate to safeguard its citizens and borders.”
At the United Nations, Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, Ambassador Haim Waxman sent a letter of complaint to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and to members of the Security Council regarding the ongoing attacks.
Waxman reminded the Security Council that Israel had asked the body of nations to act, saying “we warned of the dangers of inaction by the international community. We alerted the Council that these attacks had the potential to ignite a serious escalation of the conflict, which could affect the entire region. The events of the last two days have proven the danger of silence on behalf of the international community at large, and the Security Council, in particular.”
The Ambassador said “Over one million people in southern Israel continue to be terrorized… fearing for their lives.” He called attention to a specific incident when a rocket hit a school. Classes had been suspended. “I ask you, Excellency, to picture how different the current situation would be if the children would have been in school at the time the rocket fell.”
Waxman suggested that “the vast number of rockets” indicated the availability of advanced weaponry smuggled into Gaza by the Iranian regime. Such weapons said the Ambassador, will “diminish Gaza’s prospects for a prosperous future. He implored the members to enforce resolution 1860 which calls for prevention of illegal activity.”
The IDF and IAF has carried out 24 strikes in Gaza, including 16 against terror cells attempting to launch rockets at Israel and eight on warehouses where weapons and ammunition are manufactured or storage facilities.
The rocket attacks are not expected to end for several days. Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told members of the General Staff Forum that the IDF “has intensified its attacks on targets in Gaza” and “estimates the current round of violence in the south will continue in the next few days.” As reported by YNet, intelligence information gathered by the army and the Shin Bet security service “justifies the continued attacks in Gaza, which are aimed at quelling the rocket fire.”
IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said Islamic Jihad was “continuing to operate as the long arm of Iran, which bolsters it by sending weapons and money directly from Tehran.” His words were reinforced by the statements of Richard Stone and Malcolm Hoenlein, speaking for the Conference of Presidents, who called on the international community to “not only denounce such attacks in unambiguous terms, but …help prevent the weapons flow and financial support that enables these attacks to continue. Egypt must be assisted to assure that the transfer of weapons is stopped. We see the nefarious role of Iran as it provides financing and weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza. This explosive situation can be quieted only by a unified front led by the United States that acts against and sanctions the terrorists and their supporters.”
After meeting with General Gantz and senior intelligence officials, Defense Minister Ehud Barak assured that “the IDF will hit hard those who try to harm Israeli civilians.”