D3. AIPAC, PRESS RELEASE ON OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE, WASHINGTON, DC, 8 JULY 2014

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VOL. 44

2014/15

No. 1
P. 259
Documents and Source Material: United States
D3. AIPAC, PRESS RELEASE ON OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE, WASHINGTON, DC, 8 JULY 2014
FULL TEXT

 

On 8 July, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a formal assault on the Gaza Strip codenamed Operation Protective Edge. Hours later, the powerful U.S. pro-Israel lobbying organization AIPAC issued a press release titled “Hamas Aggression Forces Israel to Defend Itself.” In it, the organization couches the operation in an interpretation of international law and offers its perspective on the events that led to the attack, highlighting rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Hamas’s connection with the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in June. The press release concludes by calling on the United States to continue its support for Israel’s “defensive actions.”

 

In line with the AIPAC perspective, the U.S. Congress passed a handful of ceremonial resolutions condemning Hamas and supporting Israel throughout the assault (July and August 2014) as well as one bill authorizing the transfer of $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, in addition to the annual authorization of $351 million scheduled for transfer on 1 October 2014.

 

Below is the full text of AIPAC’s press release. All of the organization’s promotional material concerning the assault on Gaza is available at http://www.aipac.org.

 

After enduring more than 400 rocket attacks from Gaza in the past three weeks, Israel has launched Operation Protective Edge to protect its citizens. Hamas is intent on killing, maiming, and terrorizing innocent Israeli civilians wherever they live or work. Today Hamas rockets ranged as far north as Tel Aviv and its suburbs, putting most of Israel’s population at risk. The United States must continue to stand with Israel as it takes steps to protect its citizens.

 

Israel has made every effort to avoid hostilities, but Hamas aggression left Israel with no choice but to respond.

 

·        

Israel made several efforts to defuse the situation last week, but Hamas rebuffed every Israeli feeler. On July 3, it proposed a “quiet for quiet” formula to Hamas. A Hamas source responded, “We will not agree to ‘quiet in exchange for quiet.’ If Israel does not agree to our demands, I expect we will continue this battle.”

 

·        

Instead, Hamas announced outrageous demands, including the unthinkable step that Israel not respond to ongoing attacks from Gaza.

 

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On July 7, terrorists in Gaza dramatically stepped up attacks on Israel, launching more than 80 rockets in a day. In a further provocation, fanatics attempted to tunnel into Israel to carry out a significant terrorist attack, but were thwarted when their explosives detonated prematurely.

 

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In response to these assaults, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Protective Edge on July 7. Since the start of the Operation, the IDF has targeted more than 150 terror sites in the Gaza Strip.

 

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Israel’s aim is to protect Israeli civilians and destroy Hamas’ terror infrastructure.

 

Hamas’ escalation worsened an already tense situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

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The June 12 abduction and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers by two suspected Hamas members prompted Israel to launch Operation Brother’s Keeper, an effort both to retrieve the boys and to dismantle Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank.

 

·        

The murder of a Palestinian boy by Jewish extremists further exacerbated tensions, leading to riots in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Unlike the Palestinians’ response to the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, Israelis across the political and religious spectrum—politicians, educators, rabbis, commentators—strongly denounced the murder.

 

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“I unequivocally condemn the murder of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “Murder, riots, incitement, vigilantism—they have no place in our democracy.” Israel quickly tracked down and arrested the teen’s suspected murderers.

 

·        

Gaza terrorists exploited this tension by abandoning all pretense of restraint and initiating an onslaught of rockets. They have launched nearly 400 rockets at Israel since June 14, targeting Israeli population centers such as Tel Aviv, Be’ersheva, and Ashdod. Hamas released a video taunting Israelis, telling all residents of Be’ersheva to flee or face death.

 

Israel’s response to the ongoing terrorism from Gaza is proportionate and in compliance with international law.

 

       ·         Israel’s military operation is an act of self-defense, a right enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

 

        ·         Israel’s actions to stop Hamas rocket attacks are proportional to the risk over half of Israel’s population faces, including the prospect of mass casualties. Nevertheless, Israel                    uses pinpoint targeting to do everything it can to limit casualties in Gaza.

 

 

      ·         While Israel makes every effort to minimize civilian casualties, international law precludes Hamas’ ongoing regular use of civilian shield to protect legitimate military targets.               Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states, “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military                         operations.”

 

      ·        The responsibility for civilian casualties when those civilians are used as human shields lies with the party that deliberately places them at risk, namely Hamas. 

 

America must continue its strong support for Israel’s defensive actions.

 

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It is critical for the United States to reiterate its support for its ally Israel, including its right to live in peace and to defend itself. No other country in the world faces daily rocket attacks against its civilians, nor would any other country tolerate such violence.

 

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“We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.”

 

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Hamas’ ongoing violence against Israel underscores the need for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to renounce the Hamas-backed unity government.

 

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Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which the United States has helped fund, will again play a vital role in protecting Israeli lives. Without defensive measures like Iron Dome, Israel’s indigenous early warning system and extensive bunker facilities, Israeli civilian causalities would likely be significantly higher.

 

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The United States should continue efforts to ensure that Israel has the necessary resources to meet the growing rocket and missile threat in the region.