Special Briefing Materials on Developing Events in Southern Israel provided by
the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations
In the last week alone, the Hamas terrorist organization has launched 150 rockets and mortars at Southern Israel and has carried out three cross-border attacks. Over 760 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel in 2012. Israel cannot tolerate the escalation of rocket fire aimed at its citizens. Today, Israel decided to respond with targeted strikes against those responsible, and to impair its terrorist infrastructure. The goal of Israel’s operation is clearly defined and is aimed at removing a threat to Israeli citizens.
We hope to restore peace to our southern border but are ready for a ground operation if necessary.
Israel is acting in self-defense and out of its responsibility to protect Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks. For years, rockets from Gaza have forced one million civilians in southern Israel into bomb shelters and repeatedly kept Israeli children out of school. It is not Hamas’ firing of 150 rockets, or two rockets. There is no threshold for rockets. The only acceptable number is zero.
Israel has demonstrated great restraint for a long period, but cannot stand for the recurring attacks on its citizens. No other state would accept a similar reality.
People around the world should support Israel’s right to self-defense. The message to Hamas should be clear: stop the attacks on Israel.
This operation comes after much restraint and repeated public and diplomatic warnings to Hamas to stop its attacks on Israel.
As part of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel targeted the head of the Hamas military wing, Ahmed Jaabari, who planned multiple terrorist attacks that killed Israeli civilians, ordered Palestinian terrorists to fire thousands of rockets at Israel, and commanded the operation to kidnap Gilad Shalit. Further, Israel has seriously impacted Hamas’ long range missile capabilities including the Fajr-5 missile which has a range of nearly 40 miles and puts three million Israelis within terrorist missile range.
Israel’s Defense Force has been measured and restrained in its response to the Hamas missile escalations. The targets of the Israeli operation are military. It should be noted that Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians while shooting from within populated areas such as near mosques, hospitals and schools. Israel is doing its utmost to protect civilian life in Gaza.
Facts: Attacks on southern Israel
Attacks on Israeli towns and communities continue as you read this message:
- +180 rockets have been fired at Israel this week.
- +760 rockets have been fired at Israel in 2012.
- +2500 rockets have been fired at Israel since 2009.
- Terrorists hold more than 10,000 rockets in Gaza.
- One million Israelis, 14% of the population, are under the threat of rocket fire.
- That is equivalent to 44 million U.S. citizens under the threat of rocket fire.
- Gaza terrorists targeted an IDF jeep this week, injuring four soldiers. (Video)
- Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and is responsible for all that occurs in Gaza and all that is launched form there.
- Hamas, supported by Iran, has wielded authority over the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Israel has demonstrated great restraint for a long period but cannot stand for recurring attacks on its citizens:
- No other state would accept a similar reality.
- The targets of the Israeli operation are all military.
- Hamas and the other terrorist organizations hide among the civilian population of Gaza. They also deliberately direct their fire at the civilian population of Israel. These acts constitute a double war crime.
- Israel will make every effort to prevent harm to the civilian population of Gaza, and regrets any injury to civilians.
- The border crossings from Israel to the Gaza Strip remain open, allowing for the routine passage of goods and humanitarian aid.
- The international community must act to stop the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The message to Hamas should be clear: stop the attacks on Israel.
- Time and again, Israel has warned that it would not tolerate these attacks.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu:
- “If an alarm is sounded, people in southern Israel-1 million people-have 15 seconds to find shelter. I don’t know if any of your governments will accept this reality. I cannot accept this.”
- “The world needs to understand that Israel has the right and duty to defend its citizens.”
Ambassador Michael Oren:
- “Israel has the right and duty to defend itself from terrorist attacks designed to kill thousands of its citizens.”
- “We are sending an unequivocal message that our citizens will not be hostage to terrorist missile fire and cross-border attacks.”
- “The scope of the Israel’s defensive operation depends on Hamas and whether it takes the decision to cease firing missiles on our neighborhoods and homes.
President Shimon Peres:
- “Hamas needs to decide if it wants a quiet and developing Gaza or an unruly Gaza with no hope.”
- “We will do whatever we can to keep the flame as low as possible, while on the other hand defend our people as necessary.”
Defense Minister Barak:
- “We must be clear that Israel will not tolerate a situation in which there is incessant [rocket] fire on our citizens. No life loving country would accept this situation.”
- “Under no circumstances do we accept the harm to the way of life of civilians on our side of the border, and we intend to bring back deterrence and strengthen it in a way that will make it possible to act along the perimeter fence, in a way that will better ensure the safety of the soldiers who operate on all sides of the Gaza Strip.”
- “Hamas, in our eyes, is responsible for everything that happens in Gaza, even when it is carried out by other organizations, and it will not get away with this.”
- “Israel does not want war. But Hamas’ consistent provocation in recent weeks, in particular the incessant rounds of artillery rockets and mortars into the heart of our southern communities, the tunnel which exploded deep into Israeli territory, the anti-tank missile fired at a jeep – again inside of Israel – forced our hand into acting with both precision and decisiveness.”
- “There is no ‘quick-fix’ solution. Right now, as we stand here, massive barrages of missiles are being fired at our cities. But we will achieve these aforementioned goals throughout the course of this operation.”
- “We are still at the beginning of the event, not at the end, and we expect some complicated tests ahead. It will require vigilance; not only in Gaza, but also in Israel and in Judea and Samaria. But in the long run I believe that this operation will contribute to strengthening deterrence and reinstituting the calm in the south. I call upon the leaders of the region to act with composure, in order to promote stability and restore quiet so that we are not – heaven forbid – dragged into further deterioration.”
Security Cabinet Communique
PMO National Information Directorate on Operation Pillar of Defense (Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
It was unanimously decided, this evening (Wednesday, 14 November 2012):
1. To direct the IDF and the ISA to continue vigorous action against the terrorist infrastructures operating from the Gaza Strip against the civilian population in Israel in order to bring about an improvement in the security reality and allow a normal life for the residents of the State of Israel.
Alongside the military effort, Israel will, to the best of its ability, work to avoid harming civilians while honoring the humanitarian needs of the population, in keeping with the rules of international law.
2. To direct the IDF, the Home Front Defense Ministry, the Israel Police and all relevant agencies to take all necessary measures in keeping with Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s statement regarding the declaration of a special home front situation.
3. To allow the IDF, as per need and with the approval of Defense Minister Barak, to mobilize reserve units.
4. To direct the National Information Directorate and the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with all relevant agencies, to explain Israel’s actions, in Israel and in the international arena.
5. To authorize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, and in consultation with other ministers as per need, to decide, on behalf of the Security Cabinet, regarding the actions necessary to continue with Operation Pillar of Defense and to submit other decisions for Government approval, as may prove necessary.
Messages for “Operation Pillar of Defense”
Significant damage has been inflicted on Hamas and the operation has already achieved many objectives: A surgical strike on Hamas’ top commander Ahmad Jaabri and other terrorists who were responsible for the deaths of scores of Israelis. The operation significantly reduced Hamas’ ability to launch Fajr rockets aimed to strike Tel-Aviv and further north. The operation reduced Hamas’ ability to launch rockets at southern Israel.
- The IDF is prepared, if need be, to broaden the scope of its operation, including a wide ground offensive and call-up of reserves.
- The firing of rockets towards the center of the country was taken into account when the decision was made to launch the operation.
- The investment of billions into the home front preparedness, specifically the warning and siren systems have proven themselves.
- Israel appreciates the support of many countries: the Prime Minister spoke with US President Barack Obama and expressed his deep appreciation for the President’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself.
- The picture of the injured and bleeding Israeli baby says it. Hamas is harming children on both sides: it fires on Israeli children and it hides behind Palestinian children.
- Israeli citizens support the operation and stand with their fellow citizens living in the south. Their resilience is an integral component of national fortitude.
- Israel will continue to uphold the peace treaty with Egypt and protect its own citizens.
PM Netanyahu’s Statement to the Foreign Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this afternoon (Thursday, 15 November 2012), issued the following statement to the foreign press:
“In recent days and weeks, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza have made normal life impossible for over one million Israelis. No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire, and Israel will not tolerate this situation. This is why my government has instructed the Israeli Defense Forces to conduct surgical strikes against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.<http://www.idf.il/1283-17570-EN/Dover.aspx> And this is why Israel will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people.
I want to remind you that, seven years ago, Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza. Now, Hamas took over the areas we vacated. What did it do? Rather than build a better future for the residents of Gaza, the Hamas leadership, backed by Iran, turned Gaza into a terrorist stronghold. They fired thousands of rockets at our cities, at our towns, at our civilians, at our children. They’ve smuggled thousands of rockets and missiles into Gaza, and they deliberately place these rockets and missiles in civilian areas: in homes, in schools, near hospitals. This year alone, they fired over one thousand rockets and missiles at Israel, including close to 200 rockets in the last 24 hours.
I’m stressing this because it’s important to understand one simple point. There is no moral symmetry; there is no moral equivalence, between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide behind Palestinian civilians. And, by contrast, Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties. I saw today a picture of a bleeding Israeli baby. This picture says it all: Hamas deliberately targets our children, and they deliberately place their rockets next to their children. Despite this reality – and it’s a very difficult reality – Israel will continue to do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties.
I have to say that from my talks with world leaders, I have the clear understanding that they have a clear understanding of this. Yesterday I spoke to President Obama and I briefed him on Israel’s operations. I want to express my appreciation once again to President Obama for his unequivocal support for Israel’s right to defend itself. I also want to express my appreciation to the other world leaders I’ve had a chance to speak to in the last 24 hours: to President Hollande of France, to UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, to EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton and to Quartet representative Tony Blair. I want to thank them for their understanding of Israel’s need to defend itself, and Israel’s right to defend itself.
In the past 24 hours Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate rocket and missile attacks on its civilians. I hope that Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza got the message. If not, Israel is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people.”
President Peres: Special Remarks on the Current Situation
President Shimon Peres, this morning (Thursday, 15 November 2012), opened the annual assembly of the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel including the leaders of all the religions in Israel. A special delegation of 19 Imams, leaders of the French Muslim community, who are visiting Israel to make their voice clearly head against extremism and terrorism, also took part in the conference.
In light of the situation in the south, President Peres delivered special remarks and said, “The State of Israel and the residents of the south are under attack. This morning rockets were fired at Israel, civilians were killed and babies were injured. Children in the south are living under the threat of falling rockets, they are seized by fear. There is no nation that loves peace and hates bloodshed like Israel, our enemies are not the people of Gaza, our enemies are not the Muslim people. Our enemies are the terrorists who operate without reason and without though.” The President stressed that Israel’s hand is outstretched for peace but that Israel will do whatever is necessary to protect her citizens, “The world is beginning to understand that we are operating with responsibility and we do not take human life lightly. I don’t know any country that would show restraint for as long as Israel did during the attacks on the south.”
President Peres addressed the targeting of Ahmed Jaabari yesterday by the IDF and the strikes against Hamas’ weapons and said, “The IDF operated with the utmost effort to avoid civilian casualties. Jaabari was an arch-murderer and responsible for terror attacks and the killing of many. I salute the IDF and the security services for their accurate, surgical and strategically important operation.”
President Peres called on the religious leaders to unite to oppose bloodshed and work together for peace, “religious leaders have an important role in stopping terror in the name of religion, we should unite in our call against terror and against bloodshed, alongside a respect for the value of human life. We must work together, to call for reason and to guarantee the lives of all our children – that is a real contribution, religious and humanitarian.”
It should be noted that President Peres opened the annual assembly of the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel which took place in the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa and included senior members of the council: Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, Rabbi Yona Metzger, Imam Mouhammad Kiwan, His Excellency Archbishop Aris Shirbenian, His Paternity Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa Custos, Greek Patriarch Theophilos III, Archbishop Elias Chacour, the Latin Patriarch Fouad Tawl, and the head of the Baha’i movement, Mr. Albert Lincoln.