There’s no way Israel will lose militarily in the current clashes with Hamas terrorists in Gaza but in the propaganda war, with the world’s media, governments and pro-Palestinian organisations steeped in unjustified prejudice against the Jewish state, it is a different matter.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and UK Ambassador Daniel Taub, having learned from previous public relations debacles, were quick off the mark to register plus points. Netanyahu today told a press conference that he had explained Israel’s position with American President Barack Obama, United Nations General-Secretary Bank ki-Moon, European Union Foreign Minister Dame Katherine Ashton, French President Francois Hollande, and Quartet Representative Tony Blair, and they had sympathised with his decision to counter the four-day non-stop missile barrage from Gaza.He said the destruction of Hamas’s missile stockpiles had sent a clear message that Israel will not tolerate indiscriminate rocket attacks on its civilian population.
Taub, commenting on Israel’s aerial strikes, told the BBC: “What we did succeed in doing is taking out the vast majority of Hamas’s arsenal and that has to be a step in the right direction.” He warned that Israel could send ground forces into Gaza “in order to ensure peace and quiet for the citizens of southern Israel? Doing nothing is simply not an option. We have to recognise that restraint is a means and not an end.” Taub’s latter comment was a veiled reference to US President Obama and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague who have urged both sides to show restraint.
With the Palestine Solidarity Campaign predicting an attendance of 900 at their “To counter Israel’s killing spree in Gaza” protest tonight (Thursday, November 15) outside the Israeli Embassy, London, Britain’s Zionist Federation (ZF) issued an emergency notice to encourage supporters to join a counter demonstration. A ZF media release stated: “Following a relentless barrage of rocket attacks into Southern Israel, Israel has launched Operation Pillar of Cloud to defend itself. From 2005 until Operation Cast Lead 5,000 rockets were fired into Israel. In this calendar year alone 800 rockets were fired into Israel. More than 125 rockets and mortars have fallen on Israel since Saturday afternoon. The duty of any government is to ensure the security of its inhabitants and this is why Israel will target those who seek their destruction.”
The statement continued: “So far during this operation the head of Hamas’s terrorist wing in Gaza, Ahmed Jabari, has been killed. Israel has killed Ahmed Jabari due to his decade-long terrorist activity, which has played a major role in killing Israeli civilians. Additionally, eight terrorists were killed in surgical attacks over Khan Yunis in response to continued rocket fire. There are also rumours that a third Hamas commander has been killed.
“The Zionist Federation will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in its fight against those who seek to destroy it. We will show Israel’s diplomats in the UK that there is always support against blind hatred of Israel.”
IDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mordechai said: “The coming days ahead will be most difficult but we will restore security to the south and the IDF can continue for as long as necessary.” Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defence has reputedly prevented strikes by 75 per cent of the Gaza rockets, but this morning the Jewish state suffered its first civilian fatalities when a Grad rocket hit a large building at Kiryat Malach where people had taken shelter. Two women and man were killed, and a four-year-old boy badly hurt. A year-old girl and another infan t were injured in another rocket attack. A dozen other people were victims of panic attacks.
Yesterday morning, Christians for Zion director Mike Fryer telephoned a friend in a kibbutz near Gaza. She spoke of the terror of keeping her children calm taking cover for 48 hours in a bomb shelter. The mother described the trauma suffered by her children and called for the Israeli government to do all it could to stop the unprovoked attacks from Gaza. Israeli President Shimon Peres visited rocket-battered Sderot yesterday and heard heartbreaking tales of children living in the constant fear of rocket attacks and the consequent psychological effects on them.
Peres told them: “You are brave children who live in an abnormal reality. I know how hard it is not to sleep at night, how hard it is for your mothers and how much you want to lead a normal life. The State of Israel must listen to the children in this region and protect them.” He later told a press conference: “The countries of the world [that] in their self-righteousness transfer funds to Gaza … must see the reality that money in Gaza equals terror.” Israel, acting defensively in an operation called Pillar of Defence (Cloud in Hebrew), aims to destroy all the Hamas rocket bases in Gaza. Meanwhile, rocket damage has been reported by Jewish communities in Ashkelon, Beersheva, Ashdod and Sderot.
At the closed UN Security Council emergency session in New York dealing with the situation in Gaza last night, Palestinian Authority envoy Riyad Mansour is said to have criticized Israel for its “onslaught.” But Israel’s envoy to the UN Ron Prosor said afterwards that there was “international understanding that Israel has the right to defend itself and that the reality of rockets being fired into Israel couldn’t continue.” Both the Israeli and Palestinian envoys were given permission to speak at the emergency session, which was convened at Egypt’s request.
Prosor said that, based on previous resolutions, he expected the Security Council would suffice with calling for restraint from both sides and an end to the violence. Commenting on the missiles barrage on Israel, Prosor told the council: “For just a moment I want to take you from this chamber into the towns and cities of southern Israel. It is the middle of the night there right now. Parents and their children should be sleeping in their beds. Instead, they are huddled in bomb shelters. They won’t go to school or to work tomorrow. Their life is paralyzed by Hamas rockets.”
The IDF eliminated three Hamas terrorists early today, according to Israel Radio. More than 110 rockets have been fired at Israel since the beginning of the Pillar of Cloud operation last night. Hamas today claimed it had fired a Fajr missile at Tel Aviv, but Israeli officials said it had not received any reports of damage in the Tel Aviv area.
Gaza terrorists also fired a rocket at Dimona, where Israel’s nuclear reactor is located, but it landed wide of its mark and caused no casualties or damage.
Schools within seven to 40 kilometres of the Gaza Strip were closed today. Classes at the Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva were also cancelled..
A ban was also placed on any large gatherings of 100 or more people. Shopping centres stayed closed and all non-essential employees were told not to report for work.
Israel Embassy staff tonight reported that 90 people had been treated at hospitals following the rocket attacks. “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,” the Embassy stated. “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.”
As one IDF spokesperson said earlier, “It won’t be a quiet night tonight!”