Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Thursday, 3 July 2014), made the following remarks at the US Embassy Fourth of July celebration:
I came here directly from security consultations in the Government Compound in Tel Aviv. Over the past several weeks, we have been determinedly fighting Hamas terrorism, and Hamas has already paid a heavy price – in Judea and Samaria we have arrested hundreds of Hamas activists, we shut down nearly all of its institutions and we did many other things. In Gaza over the past several days, we hit dozens of Hamas activists and destroyed outposts and facilities that served Hamas terrorists.
Now we are preparing for two possibilities in the south: The first is that the firing at our communities will stop and then our operations will stop as well and the quiet that prevailed in the south after Operation Pillar of Defense will continue. The second possibility is that the firing at our communities in the south will continue and then the reinforcement forces that are located in the field will act forcefully. The security of our citizens comes first.
On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I would like to praise the residents of the south. The strength you are demonstrating allows us to act determinedly and responsibly towards one goal – your security, all our security.
Over the past several weeks, we have endured the kidnapping and horrifying murder of the three boys who won over our hearts and whose families have captured our hearts – what wonderful families. We will pursue all those who had a part in the murders of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali and we will catch them. We will continue to fight terrorism as we have fought it since the establishment of the country.
Our security forces continue to investigate the background to the shocking murder of the boy whose body was found in the Jerusalem Forest. Whatever the motive may be – this murder must be strongly condemned and we will bring those responsible for this crime to justice.
I appeal to all the citizens of Israel and ask you: Please exercise restraint in your actions and words. Our hearts ache, our blood boils, but we must remember that we are, first and foremost, human beings and we are citizens of a law-abiding country. We are making decisions in a responsible, cool-headed and considered manner. The American people, who experienced terrible terrorist attacks on its own soil, empathizes with our fight and we empathize with their fight."
July 4th has always been a great celebration for all those who cherish America's historic commitment to liberty. For me it resonates in a special way because I lost my brother at the rescue mission at Entebbe on July 4th, 1976, and since that date, July 4th has always been a special mixture of pain and pride – pride because this is a day in which the celebration of freedom and the fight against terrorism are intertwined. Today our two nations, America and Israel, stand together in celebrating freedom and stand together in confronting terrorism.
What is the secret of the special relationship between the United States and Israel? The answer can be summarized in four words: Shared values, common interests. Shared values because the United States and Israel were both founded on the principles of liberty, democracy and freedom. In both our lands, the rights of the individual are sacred and the foremost right, without which the others cannot exist, is the right to live.
And that is why we pursued the murderers of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali. They denied them that basic right in such a cruel way. And that is why I unequivocally condemn the murder of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem a few days ago. The police investigation is ongoing. We don't know yet the motives or the identities of the perpetrators but we will. We will bring to justice the criminals responsible for this despicable crime, whoever they may be. Murder, riots, incitement, vigilantism – they have no place in our democracy.
And it is these democratic values that differentiate us from our neighbors and unite us with the United States. These are shared values but in today's Middle East, we are united also by common interests because we face common threats of terror and upheaval from those who despise our values. The US and Israel are working together to roll back the tide of terror and defeat its evil forces.
I want to thank President Obama for his words of deep sympathy and support following the brutal murders of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. Naftali was also an American citizen.
My friends, the United States has other partners in the region and these partnerships, these relationships are important, both for the United States and for Israel. But those partnerships are based on interests. In the huge land mass from Gibraltar to the Khyber Pass, the United States shares values only with Israel. And this is what makes the bond we share so unique and so unbreakable. When America celebrates its independence, Israel celebrates with America. The people of Israel are unabashedly pro-American and the American people are unabashedly pro-Israel. And by the way, that support keeps going up and up and up each year, tremendous support for Israel in America and I can tell you – Ambassador, you can relay this in a cable – tremendous support for America in Israel.
That's not obvious in our region because we share the values. We understand what America is about. And that friendship is essential as we move forward to face the great challenges before us: Denying Iran nuclear capability, stemming the tide of radicalism in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere and building peace and stability with our neighbors.
So on behalf of the Government and people of Israel, I thank President Obama and his Administration. I thank the US Congress and the great American people. And I thank you, Ambassador Shapiro. I thank you all for your great friendship and your unfaltering support.
Happy Independence Day, America. God bless Israel and God bless America.