Israel And Hamas: Rockets and Responses

Whenever the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza starts heating up again, we always see a lot of questions rise to the surface, all about world opinion, and where the world stands on the conflict in question.
Well, we are now seeing another major escalation in the violence in Israel – as of Saturday, Israelis have been hit with a barrage of over 740 rockets shot at Israeli cities since Wednesday, courtesy of Hamas, and the IDF is now conducting an aerial operation to stop the bombardment.

If you are curious as to why the IDF has initiated this operation to stop the Hamas rocket attacks, just take a look at this Friday snapshot of the IDF’s rocket counter:

IDF Rocket Counter

 Or at this image, documenting the full reach of the rocket attacks:

 Hamas Rocket Range Map

One million Israelis are now living under constant threat of rocket fire. That’s  the equivalent of about 40 million Americans.

And the threat has been growing. New Fajr-5 rockets are now capable of reaching the central population centers of Tel Aviv and even Jerusalem (the New York City and Washington, DC of Israel, with populations to match) – putting over 3.5 million Israelis under threat – more the half the entire Israeli population – and several missiles have now hit those cities. (From Foreign Policy today: “despite Israel’s best efforts, Hamas’s stockpile of rockets is only growing deadlier with time.”)

Now imagine that this was happening in any US city. In  your city.

Any more questions?
So given this escalation, it seems worthwhile to take a quick look at what world opinion has had to say about this recent escalation.
Why don’t we begin with the United States?
On Wednesday, UN Ambassador from the United States Susan Rice issued the following statement:

“There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately.”

On Saturday, briefing reporters on board Air Force One, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes added:

“the precipitating factor for the conflict was the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We believe Israel has a right to defend itself, and they’ll make their own decisions about the tactics they use in that regard. These rockets have been fired into Israeli civilian areas and territory for some time now. So Israelis have endured far too much of a threat from these rockets for far too long, and that is what led the Israelis to take the action that they did in Gaza.”

And as early as Thursday, the United States Senate took a break from partisan squabbling and came together to unanimously pass Senate Resolution 599:

“A resolution expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizing and strongly supporting its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.”

The resolution was passed unanimously by the Senate, and was co-sponsored by 66 of our Senators. [I guess the other 34 couldn’t be reached in time to co-sponsor.] Incidentally, both Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken were among the resolution’s co-sponsors.
I would like to issue a personal Thank You to our Senators for standing united to affirm the unwavering friendship between the US and Israel, and to honor our long-standing alliance in the fight against terrorism.
Wherever you are in the US, please consider taking a moment to thank your Senators for standing up in support of Israel at this difficult time. It only takes a moment through this link.
Closer to home, our own Minnesota 3rd Congressional District Representative Erik Paulsen issued the following statement:

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against the people of Israel and continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself. With rockets hitting as far North as Tel Aviv for the first time in more than 20 years, Hamas is increasingly putting civilian lives at risk. I stand by Israel as she seeks an end to violence.”

(For a list of statements from other Congressional Representatives from around the country, please click here.)
Well, you might say, sure, that’s the US. Everyone knows the US and Israel always stand together in the face of terrorism. But what about the rest of the world? What about Europe and the UN?
Alright, then, let’s take a look at Europe, shall we?
Here’s a statement from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton:

“The rocket attacks by Hamas and other factions in Gaza, which began this current crisis are totally unacceptable for any government and must stop. Israel has the right to protect its population from these kind of attacks.”

Alright, how about UK Foreign Secretary William Hague:

“I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel … This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza. Hamas bears full responsibility for the current crisis.”

And here’s a statement from German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“Hamas in Gaza is responsible for the outbreak of violence. There is no justification for the shooting of rockets at Israel, which has led to massive suffering of the civilian population. The Chancellor urges those responsible in the Gaza Strip to immediately stop firing on Israel. At the same time she calls on the Egyptian government to use its influence on Hamas to limit the violence and bring it to an end.”

And finally, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay:

“The High Commissioner has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel and is deeply concerned by the recent major upsurge in the number of rocket attacks and that they are now being aimed at a major city such as Tel Aviv”

MEMO TO HAMAS LEADERS: I realize you may be a tad shell-shocked and confused right now, so here’s a piece of advice: When you’ve lost even the Europeans, it’s time to put down your missiles and guns, and go home, boys.
To follow the rest of the operation as it unfolds, I would highly recommend The Jerusalem Post’s stellar Pillar of Defense coverage. Or just follow the IDF’s excellent live blog of the operation as it unfolds. Or their equally awesome – and extremely informative – video channel on YouTube. (Incidentally, how much kudos does the IDF get for live blogging, tweeting, and posting videos of the entire operation live, as it unfolds? Maybe that’s because they have nothing to hide.)

I would just like to conclude with Canadian Prime Minister’s Stephen Harper’s November 2010 message on his commitment to the defense of the State of Israel. Thank you, Prime Minister Harper, for your very strong and honest words. Looks like the rest of the world just might be starting to pay attention.


Image: [IDF Blog]