Last week hundreds of rockets were launched by Palestinian terror groups from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas (“Iron Dome Eases Anxiety In Israel’s South,” March 16). Despite successful interception of many rockets, one million people fell under threat. Dozens were injured, including one critically; 200,000 children had to stay home for days in bomb shelters instead of going to school, an unfortunate but wise precaution, given that an Israeli school was hit by a rocket barrage.
The Palestinian rockets followed the targeted elimination of two Gaza-based terrorists, including the orchestrator of Sgt. Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping who also perpetrated the recent assault in Eilat, which claimed the lives of eight Israelis. The two terrorists hit were in the advanced stages of planning another attack.
The pattern is consistent. Palestinians shoot from civilian populated centers with the hope of drawing Israeli fire and increasing civilian casualties. No country would tolerate such deadly assaults against its citizens. Under the circumstances, Israel has acted with extraordinary restraint and has consistently aimed to limit civilian casualties while targeting terrorists.
The world ought to commend Israel for how it continues to handle these attacks and should single out the people of southern Israel for their heroism and determination.
And yet, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton made a boilerplate statement that does not distinguish between the attacker and the defender. She “deplore[d] the loss of civilian life” and “urge[d] all sides to re-establish calm.”
Would the EU have issued such neutral platitudes had the reverse been true? Would the UN be content, as it has here, with deafening silence?
To its credit, the United States took a different tone. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for calm on “all sides” but “condemn[ed] in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza.”
The fact is that the international community should not tolerate the bombardments coming into Israel from the south and must quickly sanction the leadership in Gaza, holding those who govern to account and punishing those who aid and abet them. The tacit condoning of the escalation of violence by equating attacks with restrained defensive response will only perpetuate the lies on which terrorists base their hopes.
The writer is chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.