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 Jabari yesterday by the IDF and the strikes against Hamas' weapons and said, "The IDF operated with the utmost effort to avoid civilian casualties. Jabari 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.