Untangling the Situation
There's a lot of confusion about the relationship beteen the current events with Gaza and the murder of the Isralei and Palestinian teens. I received the following excellent summary of the situation from Rabbi Pini Dunner, of Young Israel of North Beverly Hills.
Dearest Members and Friends
Earlier today, in Israel, the rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel began to escalate to new levels. People in Tel Aviv were forced to run to bomb shelters, and in Jerusalem the air raid sirens were sounded. Interestingly, the ‘conflict’ has suddenly attracted the attention of the international media, particularly because the media, in all their superficiality and lazy journalism, are able to attach this escalation to the murder of the 3 kidnapped Israeli teens, and the subsequent murder of an Arab teenager. I feel, therefore, for the sake of clarity, that I should share some basic information and facts with you, so that you are fully informed. In particular, at this critical time, every Jew has the duty to act as an ambassador and an advocate for our brothers and sister in Israel, who, once again, are threatened by the forces of evil, eager and intent on causing as much mayhem and damage as possible, driven by their implacable hatred of Jews and of the State of Israel.
The first thing you should know is that the latest round of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip began on June 12, the same day that three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered. It clearly had nothing whatsoever to do with the much later kidnapping of an Arab boy, and if anything was motivated by the euphoria felt by Hamas at the successful abduction of the 3 innocent Israeli teens. The rocket attacks escalated significantly on June 30, before the bodies of the 3 murdered teens were found, and well before the murder of the Arab boy. The rocket attacks reached a new peak yesterday, when no fewer than 80 rockets were launched at Israeli cities. Between June 12 and today, 284 rockets have been launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip! And I am sure that since I started writing this email, more have been fired.
Meanwhile, Israel has characteristically shown great restraint during three weeks of continuous rocket fire from Gaza. Israel's measured response was driven by a desire to restore the calm without a major military action. However, in response to the incessant and unceasing attacks by Hamas on the civilian population of Israel, Israel decided yesterday to initiate Operation “Protective Edge.” The objective of the operation is to restore stability and quiet for the residents of Israel, and to destroy all terror infrastructures directed against citizens of the State of Israel. Israel's actions, as always, are measured. They are directed at the missile launchers and the terror infrastructure of Hamas, who have turned the Gaza Strip into the center for attacks against Israel.
The US State Department said yesterday that they “strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel [and] we also support Israel's right to defend itself against these attacks.” Finally, it is important to recall that Israel left the Gaza Strip completely in August 2005. Since then there has been no Israeli presence at all, civilian or military, in the Gaza Strip, nor does Israel have any territorial claims there. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza nevertheless fire on communities inside Israel indiscriminately, with the intention of killing civilians. They also do not hesitate to launch rockets from the midst of Palestinian civilian concentrations, deliberately using Gaza residents as human shields for their terrorist activities. It is they who maintain a state of war between Gaza and Israel.
The State of Israel has no desire to wage war against Gaza or in Gaza. The only desire for the State of Israel is for Gaza to run its own affairs, and to ensure that Israelis who live close to Gaza are secure from attack, and safe in their homes. This peaceful intent can be easily demonstrated by the constant flow of goods from Israel into Gaza. There is no blockade of the Gaza Strip; goods enter and exit the Gaza Strip freely. For example, this past Sunday, despite ongoing rockets being launched against Israel, 137 trucks carrying goods and 218 tons of gas entered Gaza from Israel.
Let us pray for an end to this new saga of meaningless and causeless violence against Israel, and for the safety of our brothers and sisters who are threatened by the evil intentions of Hamas. And please can you be in touch with your political representatives to make sure that they clearly understand that the attacks against Israel are intolerable, must be stopped, and that Hamas, an organization that openly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, cannot and must not be partners with the Palestinian Authority, which receives significant financial support from the United States. Otherwise your tax money could find its way into the pockets of terrorists who seek to kill innocent Jews, and destroy Israel, which is the only country in the Middle East that is a true and reliable ally of the United States.
With warmest wishes, Rabbi Pini Dunner