Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Hamas and its co-jihadists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel. They have been conducting an unrelenting Nazi-style rocket blitz for years, except during cease-fires that are hastily negotiated after Israel strikes back. Hamas’s rocket blitz has intensified massively in recent days to new heights. Over the past several days, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired more than 550 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, with the intent to kill and terrorize innocent civilians, including children.
On July 9th alone, Hamas fired nearly 100 rockets towards Israeli population centers. And it has raised the ante in terms of the sophistication and reach of its rockets, with longer range rockets targeting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Israel’s nuclear power plant in the city of Dimona. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has had remarkable success so far. It prevented what could have been a horrible nuclear disaster by intercepting one of the rockets out of the sky near Dimona. Iron Dome has also knocked out rockets over Tel Aviv and other major population centers. But no defense system is foolproof. Hence, after warning Hamas to no avail that it will face sharp reprisals if it does not stop the rocket attacks, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge.
To date, Israel has responded with air strikes aimed at Hamas strongholds, hitting more than 560 targets in Gaza during the past two days. Its targets consist of arms storage facilities and manufacturing plants, military compounds, tunnels, buried rocket launching pads, a command and control base and homes of Hamas and Jihad Islamist commanders. Israel does not deliberately target Palestinian civilians. To the contrary, whenever possible, the Israeli military makes phone calls to suspected Hamas operatives’ homes and drops leaflets in advance of strikes to warn occupants to get out of harm’s way immediately.
Although Israel has also authorized the call-up of approximately 40,000 reservists and amassed tanks near the Israeli-Gaza border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to date resisted calls for launching a ground operation. However, his patience is running out. “The army is ready for all possibilities,” the prime minister said after a meeting of his security cabinet. “The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”
In a sign that the start of a ground operation may be very near if the rocket firing does not stop, it has been reported by DEBKAfile that, on July 10, “the IDF advised 100,000 Palestinian civilians to leave their homes in the northern Gaza villages of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Greater Ibsen and Smaller Ibsen and head west to the coast or south to remove themselves from danger.”
Hamas remains defiant. Its political chief, Khaled Meshal, rejected any efforts at mediation, declaring in a televised speech: “We receive calls from mediators from Arab and Western sides to broker a ceasefire. We say to those who ask us for a lull: Go back!”
Hamas also put out a video promising: “Zionists, wait and see stabbing attacks everywhere. Wait for suicide attacks on every bus, café and street.”
Hamas has the backing of its unity government partner Palestinian Authority President Abbas, whom, playing the usual Palestinian victimhood card, accused Israel of committing “genocide.”
Here is the perverse logic of the Palestinian propaganda offensive in a nutshell: Hamas and its co-jihadists can launch long-range rockets aimed indiscriminately at Israeli civilians in major population centers and try to precipitate a nuclear disaster with impunity, but when Israel strikes back selectively to take out military targets in Gaza used to launch or support the rocket firings, Israel, according to Abbas, is committing “genocide.”
Not surprisingly, the Palestinians are successfully pushing this outrageous, truth-challenged narrative in their favorite venue, the United Nations.
At the insistence of the Palestinian UN observer state delegation and its Arab allies, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on July 10th. The Palestinians want the Security Council to take action against Israel for what they brand as Israel’s “aggression.” After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the Security Council of the “risk of an all-out escalation in Israel and Gaza” and appealed to both sides for “maximum restraint” – his favorite phrase of late – Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour accused Israel of war crimes. He said that Israel was cynically using “this latest aggression against the Palestinian people to bring about collapse of our government.”
Ambassador Mansour emoted how Palestinian children were being killed by Israeli air strikes, neglecting to mention how Hamas uses Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields.
“I speak on behalf of the suffering and grieving Palestinian people,” Mansour said, “who are enduring yet another barrage of death, destruction, trauma and terror, which is being perpetrated willfully and maliciously against them by the Israeli occupying forces before the eyes of the world as it persists with its nearly five-decade long belligerent military occupation.”
Ambassador Mansour also announced that Palestinian President Abbas has officially requested from the Swiss government that it convene the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions. The ostensible purpose would be to investigate and possibly sanction Israel for alleged violations of its responsibilities as the occupying power and for the alleged commission of war crimes.
Apparently, Ambassador Mansour and his boss President Abbas have forgotten that Israel vacated Gaza completely in 2005. It is Hamas, not Israel, which exercises all the functions of government in Gaza, which in turn is part of what the Palestinians claim to be the State of Palestine. Hamas’s idea of how to govern is to use Gaza as a base from which to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. The Israeli government’s idea of how to govern is to defend and protect its citizens against such wanton and potentially deadly assaults from an area it does not control.
Recall that after Israel vacated Gaza, it kept the border crossings between Israel and Gaza open with security arrangements mutually agreed upon between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That worked until Hamas took over Gaza and expelled Abbas’s Fatah faction. Has Ambassador Mansour forgotten the Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza inflicted by Hamas during its clashes with Fatah? Now Ambassador Mansour is defending the actions of the same Hamas against the civilians of Israel, which he must do since Hamas is officially a co-equal partner in what he calls the “national consensus government.”
In fact, when asked by reporters at a press briefing after the July 10th Security Council meeting if the Palestinian Authority accepted responsibility for the rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza, Ambassador Mansour responded, “The Palestinian people are one. The government is one. The president is president Abbas.”
If that is so, then this unity government must accept responsibility at minimum for Hamas’s current round of hundreds of rocket launchings targeting Israeli civilians in major population centers. The “State of Palestine,” which became a party to the Fourth Geneva Convention earlier this year and now seeks to invoke the Convention against Israel, is itself in direct violation of Article 33 of the Convention prohibiting “all measures of intimidation or of terrorism.”
Ambassador Mansour claimed that Hamas’s rocket firings were in self-defense. “We did not start this round of attacks,” he declared. “It is the Israeli government. After the killing of the three settlers [Eyal, Gilad and Naftali], they started this attack against our people. The rockets came after that.”
This is sheer propaganda. Note Ambassador Mansour’s clever reference to “this round of attacks.” The fact is that Hamas and its cohorts have been firing rockets and mortars at Israel continuously all throughout 2014 – more than 100 – way before the latest crisis and “this” most recent round, not to mention the thousands of rockets launched against Israeli civilians before 2014.
Even Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the cause and effect of the current crisis, while urging both sides to stop the violence. He noted in his remarks to the Security Council that civilians were “caught between Hamas’s irresponsibility and Israel’s tough response.” He added that further escalation, including a possible ground operation, is “preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing.”
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, in his own address to the Security Council on July 10th, pointed out that Hamas was committing war crimes against both Israeli civilians and Palestinian civilians:
“Hamas is exploiting our concern for human life by hiding in Palestinian homes, schools, and mosques and using the basement of a hospital in Gaza as its headquarters. They are committing a double war crime: targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.”
Ambassador Prosor told the Security Council that, while Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered his remarks to the Council, “another five rockets were fired from Gaza,” with one landing on a house. Israel isn’t looking “for a Band-Aid solution that will allow Hamas to rest and regroup,” he added. Israel’s goal “is to remove the threat posed by Hamas by dismantling its military infrastructure and restore quiet in Israel. Hamas must understand that it cannot target Israeli civilians.”
Israel’s leaders have a responsibility to protect their own civilians, which the government is doing while trying to mitigate any unintended collateral damage. The Palestinian leaders, including President Abbas, are failing to fulfill their responsibilities to their own people by placing them in harm’s way as a direct result of the jihadists’ war to destroy Israel. Hamas is simply following through on its Charter’s declaration that “’Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it. There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.”
The United Nations and other bodies reflecting the opinions of the so-called international community enable this jihad so long as they try to impede Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and protect its civilian population.
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