More than 1000 rockets have been fired at Israel since Saturday (10 Nov), over 800 since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense (14 Nov), landing mostly in the south, killing three people in Kiryat Malachi. The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system intercepted over 300 rockets, preventing them from striking populated areas in Israel.
At least seven people were seriously injured on Sunday (Nov 18) in direct hits on a home in Ashkelon and a car in Ofakim.
Israeli casualties: 3 killed, 6 seriously wounded, 8 in moderate condition and 119 lightly injured (including 7 soldiers).
Children in Kiryat Malachi run for cover at the sound of the air raid siren
Operation Pillar of Defense - Selected statements (19 Nov 2012)
US President Obama at joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Thailand
(18 Nov 2012):
"Let me start with Gaza. Let’s understand what the precipitating event here was that’s causing the current crisis, and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles; they were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.
Now, what is also true is, is that we are actively working with all the parties in the region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further escalation of violence in the region. And so I’ve had several conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I’ve had several conversations with President Morsi of Egypt. I’ve spoken to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, who was visiting Egypt right in the midst of what was happening in Gaza. And my message to all of them was that Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping-up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable...
We're going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours. But what I've said to President Morsi and Prime Minister Erdogan is that those who champion the cause of the Palestinians should recognize that if we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, then the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future.
And so if we're serious about wanting to resolve this situation and create a genuine peace process, it starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel's territory, and that then gives us the space to try to deal with these longstanding conflicts that exist."
Prime Minister Netanyahu to Cabinet (18 Nov 2012):
"Today I will continue to speak with world leaders. I appreciate the understanding that they are showing for Israel's right to defend itself. In my talks with the leaders, I emphasize the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time when Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel. We are a responsible government that is obligated, above all, to the security of its citizens, and we are acting in accordance with this obligation."
President Peres at meeting with French FM Fabius (18 Nov):
"The State of Israel has been left with no option other than to defend itself. It cannot be argued that Gaza is occupied. Israel left Gaza willingly, yet they target our children as they are leaving for school. The question, therefore, is why are they firing? We must understand that we are talking of millions of innocent people in southern Israel who cannot close their eyes for fear of the rockets.”
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in briefing on board Air Force One with President Obama (Nov 17, 2012):
"We believe that the precipitating factor for the conflict was the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We believe that Israel has a right to defend itself, and they'll make their own decisions about the tactics that they use in that regard... These rockets have been fired into Israeli civilian areas and territory for some time now. So the Israelis have endured far too much of a threat from these rockets for far too long. And that is what led the Israelis to take the action that they did in Gaza. I think we have a shared view that if you could have a de-escalation that brings an end to this violence that would be a positive outcome. We just believe that that has to include putting an end to the rocket fire that has terrorized far too much of the Israeli population for far too long."
The civilians of southern Israel have been under sustained attack from Gaza since last Saturday, November 10th. More than 120 rockets were fired before Israel launched operation pillar of defense this afternoon (November 14)
The aftermath of a rocket attack
The toll the rockets have taken on Israeli citizens is heavy. Over 1 million civilians live in range and their lives are threatened with every launch. Approximately 800 rockets and mortar shells have launched since the start of the year. Daily life in southern Israel has been totally disrupted.
House in Netivot damaged by a direct rocket hit (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
Israel has demonstrated great restraint, both in the current crisis and in the two previous sustained barrages of the past month. However, the escalation of events over the past few days forced Israel to react to the Hamas attacks.
Accordingly, Israel targeted Ahmed Jabari, Hamas’ military chief in Gaza and an arch-terrorist. Jabari was responsible for all terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza strip in the past decade. He was also involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. In addition, Israel targeted the Fajr rocket sites in Gaza, reducing Hamas’ ability to launch these long-range missiles which are capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
Tami Shadadi surveys the damage to her house in Sderot (Nov 12, 2012), after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
The aim of Operation Pillar of Defense is to remove a strategic threat to Israeli citizens. To accomplish this, the IDF will act to protect the lives of Israeli citizens, including reducing the capabilities of Hamas’ long and short range rocket forces. Additionally, Israel is acting to impair Hamas’ command and control system.
Israelis run for cover as a siren warns of incoming rockets in Kiryat Malachi,
where three were killed (Photo: Reuters)
All of Israel’s actions have been taken in self-defense. It is the duty and right of every state to protect its civilian population from attack. No other state would allow a million citizens to be targeted by terrorist organizations without responding.
The targets if Israeli operations are all military. Israeli strikes are conducted in a precise surgical manner, in order to reduce a minimum any effect on civilian population of Gaza. Israel regrets any injury that my nevertheless be caused to civilians in the Gaza strip.
In sharp contrast, Hamas and other terrorist organizations hide among the civilian population of Gaza. They also direct their fire at the civilian population of Israel. These actions constitute a double war crime.
Remains of a car hit by a rocket in Beersheba (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
Despite Israel’s total disengagement from Gaza strip in 2005, Hamas continues to attack Israel, proof of the fact that they are not fighting against Israel’s (non-existent) presence in Gaza but against Israel’s very existence.
The international community should act to stop the attacks on Israel from Gaza Strip. Hamas and other terrorist organizations cannot be allowed to act with impunity against the civilian population of Southern Israel.