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Operation Pillar of Defense - Behind the Headlines

Operation Pillar of Defense
Behind the Headlines

Thursday 15 November 2012, 12.20pm

The Embassy of Israel in Wellington believes it is important that New Zealanders receive an even-handed account of current events in southern Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Israel’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, said today.

Ambassador Tzur said that civilians of southern Israel have been under sustained attack from Gaza since last Saturday, November 10th—and have been under periodic attack for much longer than that.

In the latest escalation, more than 120 rockets were fired before Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense Wednesday afternoon.

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.

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 Hamas terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip in the past decade. He was also directly 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.

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 by reducing the capabilities of Hamas’ long and short range rocket forces. Additionally, Israel is acting to impair Hamas’ command and control system.

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 of Israeli operations are all military. Israeli strikes are conducted in a precise surgical manner, in order to reduce to a minimum any effect on the civilian population of Gaza. Israel regrets any injury that may nevertheless be caused to civilians in the Gaza Strip.

In sharp contrast, Hamas and the 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.

Despite Israel’s total disengagement from the 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.

“We believe that the international community should act to stop the attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations cannot be allowed to act with impunity against the civilian population of southern Israel,” Ambassador Tzur said.

“We also believe that thoughtful people anywhere, not least here in New Zealand, should understand the decisions we have now most reluctantly taken.”


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