Israel had not wanted this conflict or any other with the Gaza Strip. It disengaged
from Gaza in 2005, removing every community and army base in the hope that
this would improve the chances for peace. The Gaza Strip was not developed to
benefit the Palestinians, instead Hamas seized control and turned it into a
Although Israel has demonstrated great restraint for years, now its
government had little choice but to act in self-defense. In common with all
other governments, it has a right, and indeed a duty, to protect its citizens.
The immediate causes of the conflict were the attacks by Hamas, primarily the
121 rockets that were fired on southern Israel over the previous four days.
of rocket fire had preceded the operation. Over 5,200 rockets and mortars
have struck Israel since the Hamas
takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. No state could be expected to acquiesce
to a reality that includes constant terrorist attacks.
During the operation, Israel targeted
more than 1,500 terrorist sites. Israeli strikes were as surgical as
possible. The IDF went to great lengths to minimize harm to
civilians, both by warning them to stay away from terrorists and their
infrastructure (by breaking into television broadcasts, calling Gaza's
residents, sending text messages and dropping leaflets) and by taking advantage
of excellent intelligence, careful military planning and precision munitions.
Israel regrets any harm to civilians, and considers the death of every
innocent civilian a tragedy. However, the responsibility for injury to any
resident of Gaza lies solely on Hamas' shoulders. It was Hamas and the
other terrorist organizations that used civilians as human shields, placing
terrorist bases, weapons stores and rockets launchers near homes, schools,
mosques and hospitals. Hamas' actions were deliberate, as the terrorist
organizations know that Palestinian casualties will be blamed on Israel, thereby
helping their propaganda efforts.
In actuality, according to international law, those that use civilians as
human shields bear primary responsibility for their fate. Hamas is committing a
war crime, yet when the terrorist organizations are not censured for their
criminal activity but Israel is condemned for acting in self-defense, this
encourages the terrorists to continue their heinous actions.
The terrorist organizations are actually committing a double war crime when
they not only fire from among Palestinian civilians but deliberately target
Israeli civilians. From the beginning of the escalation on 10 November, more
than 1,400 rockets were launched at Israeli territory. Each rocket was
targeted at civilian towns and cities.
Israelis in southern Israel bore most of the brunt of these attacks. Many
Israelis had only 15 seconds in which to find shelter. Millions in the range of
the rockets had to live their lives knowing that any minute could bring another
siren, another run to take cover. Schools within a 40 kilometer (24 mile) radius
of Gaza had to be closed. Still as a matter of principle and pride, Israelis
tried to keep daily life as normal as possible under the circumstances.
Six Israelis were killed by rockets and mortars. Israel only avoided
substantial casualties by its extensive network of shelters, disciplined public
that followed official instructions and the Iron Dome missile defense
Israel faced a considerable military
machine in Gaza that was closely connected to Iran. As admitted at the end
of the operation by senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, as well
as by Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian sources, Iran provided
long-range Fajr 5 rockets and other weapons, trained many terrorists and
transferred millions of dollars to the terrorist organizations.
Through the application of limited military force, Israel's aims in the
operation - to act against the terrorist infrastructures in Gaza and stop the
rocket fire, thereby improving the security reality and allowing a normal life
for Israelis - were reached. Israel dealt heavy blows to Hamas and the other
terrorist organizations in Gaza, by targeting their senior commanders,
eliminating thousands of rockets (including long-range models) and greatly
degrading the terrorist infrastructure and institutions. This was accomplished
through, among other measures, destroying hundreds of rocket-launch sites,
command and control centers, smuggling tunnels, weapons factories and ammunition
With Israel's goals achieved and with US Secretary of State Clinton and Egypt
guiding the efforts to reach the understandings, the cease-fire came into effect
on 21 November. Israel will uphold the cease-fire but reserves the right to
react in self-defense should the terrorist organizations violate it. Israel
cannot tolerate rocket attacks on its civilians. No country should be expected
to allow its citizens to suffer from terrorism.
Israel cooperated closely with world leaders on the aims and methods of the
operation. Israel succeeded in consolidating a large international coalition
against the terror groups operating out of Gaza and there was widespread
understanding of Israel's self-defensive actions. Statements of support came
from US President Obama, as well as from the European Union's High
Representative for Foreign Affairs, the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, the US Senate and the US House
of Representatives. The UN Secretary-General and President of the Security
Council made positive statements that condemned the rocket fire from Gaza.
The international legitimacy Israel enjoyed during the crisis will be
important in the future if the need arises again to use force to defend the
citizens of Israel. At the same time, it is important that the international
community respond immediately to any rocket attacks on Israel and does not wait
for an Israeli reaction.
Iran will continue to play a destabilizing role in the region if not
confronted with strong international pressure. Action must be taken to halt the
smuggling of arms, particularly Iranian weapons, to the Gaza Strip.
Israel combined diplomatic and limited military action to achieve its aims.
It attempted to manage the conflict in a responsible manner despite the
difficult situation and complicated reality in the region.
Israel believes that it has reestablished its deterrence and that Hamas and
the other terrorist organizations will hesitate before attacking Israeli
civilians in the future. Security and normality have returned to southern
Israel. International pressure on Hamas will contribute to ensuring that the