PA President Abbas Blames Israel for Escalation of Violence in Southern Israel
by Gidon Ben-Zvi
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday night criticized Israel’s military response to Gaza rocket fire saying the government in Jerusalem “is guilty of escalating the violence” in the region, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Abbas to condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians this week. Instead, the PA leader found fault in Israel’s response to the attacks.
Netanyahu told visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, “You are going to visit President Abbas shortly. He has not condemned the firing of rockets on our citizens. He did, however, condemn Israel for responding and shooting three terrorists who fired mortars at us.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for launching at least 60 rockets towards southern Israel, the biggest such assault since Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.
The Israeli Defense Force responded almost immediately with tank fire targeting terror sites in northern and southern Gaza. Overnight, the Israeli Air Force struck 29 targets known to be controlled by Islamic Jihad.
While Abbas criticized Israel’s response to the attacks, the White House condemned the rocket fire and said the Jewish state has a right to defend itself.
“There is no justification for such attacks…We urge an immediate end to these terrorist attacks,” a White House spokesperson said.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said at the conclusion of a security assessment meeting on Thursday, “We will not allow Islamic Jihad or any other entity in the Gaza Strip to disrupt the lives of Israeli citizens.”
“When southern Israel isn’t left in peace, Gaza will feel the consequences – in a way that will make the terrorists regret their actions,” he said. “As Hamas is responsible for Gaza, it needs to keep in mind that we will not tolerate being shot at. If they [Hamas] don’t know how to maintain quiet [in the Gaza Strip], they will pay the price.”