By His Excellency Dr. Itzhak Gerberg Ambassador of Israel to New Zealand and Non-Resident to Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. This weekend Israelis living in the south of the country woke up to yet another barrage of rockets from Gaza.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups launched over 600 rockets and mortars at Israelis from Gaza. They have killed four Israeli civilians, wounded dozens, and shattered the lives of many loved ones. The rockets were deliberately aimed at civilian centers and have struck Israeli roads, homes, a factory, and even a kindergarten and a hospital in the city of Ashkelon. Schools were shut throughout the south as children ran for shelter amid explosions.
Israel has not had a presence in the Gaza Strip since 2005 and since a bloody coup in 2007 the Hamas terror organization has ruled the Gazan population with an iron fist while committing a double crime; It is indiscriminately attacking Israeli civilians while hiding and operating from within Gaza’s civilian population – thus using Gazans as human shields and assault weapons. The fact that Hamas routinely stores weapons and fires from within civilian neighbourhoods shows Hamas’ utter disregard for human life and its willingness to endanger Gazans. When the terror organization called for thousands of Gazans to riot near the fence with Israel, it was planning for events to turn violent.
Since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas has launched upwards of 12,000 rockets and mortars into Israel. For years, Hamas has been building up its military capacities, using funds intended for Gaza’s civilians and racketeering the local economy to increase its weapons stockpiles and build cross-border attack tunnels.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both internationally designated terrorist organizations, have a long, bloody history of deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. In the past, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas carried out hundreds of horrific suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and ramming attacks, killing and maiming thousands of people in Israel. Both terror organizations are backed by Iran and have openly called for the murder of Israelis, declaring their intention to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic caliphate in its stead. We will not allow this to happen. Israel will continue to protect its citizens and ensure our security just as any democratic nation would do, including New Zealand.