Hamas Instructions To Human Shields

This afternoon, the IDF dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip, warning civilians to stay away from Hamas operatives and infrastructure.

The first leaflet:

To the residents of Sheikh Ajlin, Tel Al-Hwa, Rimal South, Zeitoun, Sjaiya, Turkeman and Sajiya Jadida: For your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move towards the central Gaza city, via Al-Khara, Jma’at Al Dul Al Arabia, Al Aqsa Al Qudsiya, Um Alaimoun, Salah A-din, Al-Maqsurra, Hal’s Mjdad. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the areas of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.

The second leaflet:

To the residents of of the outskirts of Shati, Al-Atatra, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun: for your safety, you are required to evacuate your residences immediately and move  towards central Gaza city via Al-Falujah, Al-Udda and Salah A-din. In the central Gaza city, you are required to stay between the roads of Salah A-din from the west, Amar Al-Muchtar from the north, Al-Nasser from the east and Al-Quds St. from the south.

A short while ago, the Hamas interior ministry spokesman was interviewed on Al-Quds Radio in Gaza and urged his listeners to ignore the IDF warnings. IDF intelligence was listening to the broadcast and relayed the following transcript:

Question: As the bombings go on, I want to address a specific issue: People have been receiving text messages urging them to evacuate their houses…

Hamas Interior Ministry Spokesperson: This is all part of the psychological warfare held by the Zionist enemy… So by using this way of communication, our public radio, I address all our Palestinian brothers by saying: Please do not listen to the orders noted on these text messages, their only purpose is spreading fear and panic within our people.

The IDF does everything it can to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Hamas uses civilians as human shields.

B’nai B’rith’s Israel Emergency Fund in Response to Gaza Situation

B’nai B’rith International is launching an Israel Emergency Fund in response to events in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Its goal is to raise funds to assist Israeli residents who are dealing with a barrage of rocket attacks from Hamas. Funds could also be used to help with the personal needs of Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

More after the jump.

“We must support Israeli residents who have been subjected to an unimaginable life as Hamas continues its terror attacks into Israel,”

B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.

After days of Hamas rocket attacks into southern and central Israel, sending a million Israelis scrambling for bomb shelters, The Israel Defense Forces responded with a campaign to disable Hamas terror cells.

“Every government has as its primary obligation to protect its citizens,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We support Israel as it seeks ways for its citizens to live in peace.”

B’nai B’rith has opened its Israel Emergency Fund in the past to assist with previous Gaza situations and to help in the wake of the devastating Mt. Carmel fires. Some of the past funds helped B’nai B’rith purchase Hebrew-language best sellers for Israel Defense Force combat soldiers through the “Sifrut for Soldiers” program. In other cases, funds were used to buy computers, electronic equipment and inflatable playgrounds to help improve the lives of those trapped in the bomb shelters, and to purchase upgraded communications equipment for fire fighters.

Click here to donate online.

Donations can be received by mail at: B’nai B’rith Israel Emergency Fund, B’nai B’rith International, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th floor, Washington, D.C. 20006.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Travels to the Middle-East

Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.  

Details follow the jump.
Her visits will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days – including intensive engagement by President Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi – to support de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm.  As President Obama noted in his conversations with President Morsi, we commend Egypt’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and are hopeful that these efforts will be successful.

She will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living in peace and security.  She will continue to express U.S. concern for the loss of civilian life on both sides.

 

A Letter From An IDF Soldier

— by Adam Klazmer

As you may know, I served in a combat unit of the Israeli Defense Forces — the Nahal Infantry Brigade’s 50th Battalion. This week, my friends and comrades were pulled out of the West Bank and moved to the border with the Gaza Strip in preparation for a possible ground invasion. Now that I am out of uniform, I better understand how difficult it can be on the outside but I refuse to feel helpless. There are still many ways we can help those in harm’s way.

I was in contact today with the head of Yashar LaChayal, a charitable organization that provides support to IDF soldiers.  Yahsar LaChayal means “Straight to the Soldier”.  My question was very simple and very blunt: What do you need and what will it cost? I received this reply:

Many units are on the border waiting. I made three trips today alone from suppliers to units. They need neck warmers, gloves, underwear, hats, and maybe thermals if weather gets colder, toiletries, etc. Most soldiers were on base for about 20 days and were expecting to go home for Shabbat. Pretty tense situation.

I am personally trying to raise $25,000 for my unit — Nahal 50.  This money will help keep my friends warm as they continue their preparations. Please do not think that these soldiers will be facing a mild winter.  Having lived through Philadelphia and Boston winters, I can honestly say that the coldest I have ever been (and probably ever will be) was during the winter on the border with Gaza.

All operational and administrative costs of Yashar LaChayal are paid annually by the Moskowitz family of Miami Beach.  This means that every dollar that you donate will help to equip an Israeli combat soldier. Yashar LaChayal is a registered non-profit in the US so all donations are 100% tax deductible.  

Please pass this article along to your friends and family — and encourage them to give what they can.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for anything you can do to help.
 

Agudath Israel Salutes Obama’s Unwavering Support of Israel

Letter from Agudath Israel of America to President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

We at Agudath Israel of America and our constituency of Orthodox Jews across the United States, salute your clear and unwavering support of Israel’s security.

Your recent public words confirming our nation’s endorsement of Israel’s right to defend herself, and place responsibility for the current conflict squarely where it belongs, in the lap of Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza, are deeply appreciated.

Thank you also for your leadership and foresight in 2010, when the United States committed considerable special aid to Israel for the expansion of the Iron Dome missile interception system. Today we see how Iron Dome has played so crucial a role in recent days in preventing loss of innocent life and destruction of property.

In a time when some other nations, sadly, seem equivocal regarding terrorism, whether waged by individuals or by state actors like the current government in Gaza, the clarity of vision and resolve you have demonstrated set an example of how principle is more important than politics.

Thank you once again. As always, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,

Rabbi David Zwiebel

Special Report: Israel and Gaza

— by Steve Sheffey

Hamas terrorists have fired thousands of rockets into Israel from Gaza. What is remarkable is not the Israeli response, but the Israeli restraint in the face of aggression no other country would be expected to tolerate.

The pro-peace and progressive communities must speak out forcefully in support of Israel. A two-state solution is impossible as long as Hamas terrorism continues.

President Obama has backed Israel in this latest crisis. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) condemned Hamas and issued a statement unequivocally supporting Israel’s right to self-defense. Congressman-elect Brad Schneider (D-IL) also issued a strong statement condemning Hamas’s attacks on Israel and supporting Israel’s right to self-defense.

The US Senate and House unanimously approved a resolution supporting Israel on November 15. For this to happen in two days with everything else on the Congressional agenda is a remarkable display of US support for Israel. AIPAC praised President Obama’s strong support for Israel as well as strong support from both parties in Congress.

Since his re-election, President Obama has spoken out against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN, reiterated his firm commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and forcefully condemned Hamas while supporting Israel’s right to defend itself. So much for Republican claims that President Obama would be less supportive of Israel in his second term.

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More after the jump.
Israel is doing what it has to do. As Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “Those who preach to us about morality should offer an alternative way to stop the rocket fire from Hamas.”

Hamas terrorists have fired over 12,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel during the past 12 years. Hamas  has fired over 800 rockets  into Israel since the beginning of the year, over 120 in the week before Israel began Operation Pillar of Defense, and hundreds more since then. No country would tolerate this terror for as long as Israel has. No country should have to tolerate even one rocket, let alone 12,000. Millions of  Israelis are within rocket range and have only 15 seconds from the time the sirens sound to run to a shelter.

President Obama told Prime Minister Netanyahu “that he understands and supports Israel’s right to self-defense in light of countless rocket attacks on Israeli civilians being launched from Gaza.” And yesterday, the White House defended Israel and blamed Hamas for the the escalation in violence, saying that “Israelis have endured far too much of a threat from these rockets for far too long.”

On November 14, UN Ambassador from the United States Susan Rice said that

“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.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu is right:

I want to remind you that, seven years ago, Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza. Now, Hamas took over the areas we vacated. What did it do? Rather than build a better future for the residents of Gaza, the Hamas leadership, backed by Iran, turned Gaza into a terrorist stronghold. They fired thousand of rockets at our cities, at our towns, at our civilians, at our children. They’ve smuggled thousands of rockets and missiles into Gaza, and they deliberately place these rockets and missiles in civilian areas: in homes, in schools, near hospitals. This year alone, they fired over one thousand rockets and missiles at Israel, including close to 200 rockets in the last 24 hours.

I’m stressing this because it’s important to understand one simple point. There is no moral symmetry; there is no moral equivalence, between Israel and the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians, and they hide behind Palestinian civilians. And, by contrast, Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties. I saw today a picture of a bleeding Israeli baby. This picture says it all: Hamas deliberately targets our children, and they deliberately place their rockets next to their children. Despite this reality – and it’s a very difficult reality – Israel will continue to do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties.

Israel’s response was neither excessive nor disproportionate. What would a proportionate response be? Firing a missile into civilian areas of Gaza every time Hamas fires a rocket into civilian areas of Israel? There is no moral equivalency or “cycle of violence” here. Hamas fires rockets into civilian areas to terrorize Israel. Israel attempts to end the rocket fire by targeting those who are doing the shooting. Since Hamas deliberately operates from civilian areas, some loss of innocent life is inevitable, no matter how hard Israel tries to avoid it. To compare Israel’s deliberate, surgical killing of Hamas terror chief Ahmed Jabari with Hamas’s deliberate targeting of civilians is itself immoral. Hamas brought this on itself and its people.

We will also hear that more Gazans than Israelis were killed in the recent fighting. This is partly because the Iron Dome batteries the Obama administration provided have intercepted some of the missiles, partly because Israelis are trained to find shelter as quickly as possible, and partly because even though Israel targets military sites, Hamas places the military sites in civilian areas.

Palestinians in Gaza are suffering terribly from Israeli air strikes. The death of any innocent person is tragic. This latest round of fighting will result in more suffering and dying within Gaza. It will also breed more hatred toward Israel. No one should be happy about it. The problem is that Israel has no choice. The UN is not pressuring Hamas to stop the terror. The Arab countries are not pressuring Hamas to stop the terror. Israel had to act to stop the terror, and while Palestinian suffering is undeniable, the blame rests solely with Hamas, not Israel. How much force should Israel use? Enough to stop the rockets, whatever that might take.

If the Arabs were really concerned about their Palestinian brethren, instead of running to the UN to condemn Israel, they would have already run to the UN to condemn Hamas for its terrorist rocket strikes.  Instead of financing Hamas, they would cut off financing for Hamas and try to strengthen the Palestinian Authority. They would realize that the goal of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security can only be achieved by showing the Israeli public that a two-state solution can work. How can the Israeli public be expected to support a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) after this? Most Israelis understand that a two-state solution is the only solution that will allow Israel to remain democratic and Jewish, but they also understand that any solution must allow Israelis to stay alive. Hamas is making the case that ceding the West Bank could be national suicide.

As Susan Rice said on November 14,

“Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that does nothing but set back the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza nor to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination and independence.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said on November 15 that “Hamas’s ongoing use of indiscriminate violence against Israeli is harmful to the cause of Palestinian statehood and dangerous to the Palestinian people in Gaza.  Its oppressive regime has caused immense suffering.” Read all of Rep. Schakowsky’s condemnation of Hamas and unequivocal support of Israel’s right to defend itself here.

The pro-peace community in the United States must speak out forcefully against Hamas and in support of Israel’s right to self-defense. Now is not the time to tell Israel to exercise restraint or to remind Israel that military action alone cannot solve the problem, as if Israel does not already know that. Now is the time to acknowledge that those of us living thousands of miles away from Israel, in peace and safety, are not in a better position than Israel to determine how best to protect their families and loved ones. Instead, the pro-peace community should focus its efforts on rallying world-wide condemnation of Hamas and their terrorist allies.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in an article titled A Call to US Progressive Jews: Support Israel’s ‘get tough’ policies in Gaza, wrote that

if progressive American Jews ask me why Israel can’t just muddle through, my answer is this: Israel came into being so that Jewish children would never again have to huddle together in fear, terrorized by enemies of the Jewish people, while their parents stood by helplessly. Helping those children is a progressive cause. And doing nothing for them undermines the sovereignty of the Jewish state and strikes a fatal blow at the very raison d’etre of Zionism.

See this a one-minute video showing a mother’s perspective on the affect of rockets on children.

To achieve peace, the Palestinians must start preparing their own people to accept the reality and legitimacy of a permanent Jewish state of Israel. They must also prove to Israel that it can cede land to the Palestinians without fear of creating yet another launching pad for attacks on Israel.  Israel will have to make painful concessions to accommodate yet another Arab state in the Middle East, including relinquishing sovereignty over areas of the West Bank that have been Jewish for centuries. That’s hard enough, but worth it for real peace. But to expect Israel to make those sacrifices when it is understandably concerned that its neighbors still seek its destruction and are willing to terrorize Israel with rocket fire is unrealistic and unreasonable.

Israel’s quarrel is not with the Arab Palestinian people, but with the Iran-backed Hamas terrorists who run Gaza. Indeed, Israel has endorsed a two-state solution and consistently proposed peaceful solutions, even willingness to trade land won in defensive wars for a promise of peace, only to be rebuffed again and again by intransigent Arab Palestinian leadership.

But even as Israel strives for peace with its Arab neighbors, it cannot be expected to forsake the primary duty of any state: to protect the safety and security of its citizens. We would expect no less from our government if our children were subjected to daily rocket attacks at home and at school. Israelis in southern Israel have only seconds of warning to race to the nearest bomb shelter, and if kids are in different rooms, that means a split-second decision regarding which kid to grab and which kid to hope makes it to the shelter on her own. No government can permit its citizens to live that way. Read more about what it’s like here.

Since his re-election, President Obama has spoken out against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN, has again stated that “we’re not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon,” and has forcefully condemned Hamas and unequivocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself in Gaza. So much for Republican claims that the “real” Obama would abandon Israel in his second term. The real President Obama is who we saw last week and who we’ve seen for the past four years. We have a friend in the White House. Republicans who are sincerely concerned about Israel should be relieved. Republicans who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes, though, better start worrying.

The US Congress also stands behind Israel. On November 15, the United States Senate sent an overwhelming message of solidarity with Israel, passing by unanimous consent a resolution introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) that very same day. This bipartisan resolution, with 62 Senators as co-sponsors joining Gillibrand and Kirk, expressed firm support for Israel’s “inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.” On November 16, the House passed unanimously passed an identical resolution, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). Click here to read the resolution.

For statements from other elected officials, including Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), click here. Congressman-elect Brad Schneider issued a statement condemning rocket fire from Hamas and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, noting that he has personally visited many of the Israeli communities now under fire.

AIPAC on Thursday praised the Obama administration’s strong support for Israel’s self-defense, as well as the strong support members of Congress from both parties have given Israel amid the Gaza fighting. Read more here.

Major Israeli Population Areas Hit by Hamas-Controlled Gaza

— by Michelle Effron Miller

In the past 36 hours, the terrorist organization Hamas launched over 360 missiles at Israel’s major metropolitan areas.

Rishon Lezion, the fourth largest city in Israel and a suburb of Tel Aviv, was struck as were the metropolitan areas of Ashdod and Be’er Sheva. Half of all rockets launched from Gaza have a 25-mile range. Israel, a country roughly the size of New Jersey, now has an estimated 60% of Israel’s population is under fire.

Three Israelis civilians were killed and there are approximately 150 Israeli casualties, including young children. Israel has endured over 500 rockets since Saturday.

Consul General to the Mid-Atlantic Region, Mr. Yaron Sideman, said “We thank the United States and the many elected officials for supporting Israel and condemning these terrorist attacks against our country. Israel cannot tolerate the continual assault on its citizens.”

More after the jump.
 

Consul General Sideman added, “The IDF is acting in a responsible manner by selecting well-defined targets and providing initial warning to the population in Gaza prior to striking rocket launchers in order to prevent, in as much as possible, civilian casualties.”

Yesterday, the IDF embarked on Operation Pillar of Defense in order to protect Israeli citizens and to damage the terrorist infrastructure to prevent future attacks.

Reform Movement Joins Communal Israel Terror Relief Fund

— by Annette Powers

In response to Israel’s military efforts to stop the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza, and the subsequent escalation in violence, the arms of the Reform Movement, representing 1.5 million Jews in North America, as well as numerous professional organizations and affiliates, are joining together, calling for spiritual, political, and financial support for Israel.

More after the jump.
The Reform Movement has long been an unwavering voice for Israel and reaffirms that staunch support for Israel in this moment of crisis. The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) has been in touch with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), and the entire Reform Jewish Movement is working together to provide support for Israel’s people who find themselves in the line of fire from Gaza rockets, including those in Reform communities.

To that end, the Reform Movement is joining with partners from across the North American Jewish landscape in establishing an Israel Terror Relief Fund. This effort is being coordinated by the Jewish Federations of North America. All donations will go to direct aid, including to the Reform community in Israel, through organizations such as The Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, as they work to provide respite and support to the thousands of children and families in Israel’s southern region, food and emergency kits to the elderly and disabled, and many other relief and emergency services.

Donation information, as well as a wide array of other resources – including liturgical suggestions, background information from many of our affiliates, including ARZA, and curricular materials – are available at urj.org/israel.

White House Affirms Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

— by Sari Weintraub

President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the rocket attacks on Israel, condemning the attacks and affirming Israel’s right to defend itself. The White House released a statement, saying:

The President spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi about the rocket attacks being launched from Gaza into Israel, and the escalating violence in Gaza.

The President reiterated to Prime Minister Netanyahu the United States’ support for Israel’s right to self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians. The President urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. The two agreed that Hamas needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate.  The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch in the coming days.  Earlier today, Vice President Biden received a briefing from Prime Minister Netanyahu on the events in Gaza.

Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted:

I want to express my appreciation once again to President Obama for his unequivocal clear sided support for Israel’s right to defend itself.

Yesterday, the Obama Administration “strongly condemn[ed]” the attacks on Israel in a statement from the State Department, saying that “there is no justification for the violence that Hamas… [is] employing against the people of Israel.”

Senators Affirm Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

Last light, the Senate unanimously passed Resolution 599 supporting Israel’s “Pillar of Defense” operation against Hamas. According to The Times of Israel,

The United States Senate sent a message of solidarity to Israel on Thursday by unanimously passing a resolution that expressed firm support for Israel’s right to protect its people from terrorism on the second day of Pillar of Defense.

Introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), Senate Resolution 599 expressed ‘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.’

Sixty-two Senators joined the bipartisan resolution as co-sponsors.

The full text of the resolution follows the jump.
112TH CONGRESS 2D SESSION S. RES. 599

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.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES Mrs. GILLIBRAND (for herself and Mr. KIRK) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

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. Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying
the State of Israel;

  • Whereas Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization;
  • Whereas Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and accept previous agreements between
    Israel and the Palestinians;
  • Whereas Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and missiles since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew from Gaza in 2005;
  • Whereas terrorists in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have fired approximately 900 rockets and missile shells into
    Israel this year, an increase from roughly 675 attacks in 2011 and 350 in 2010;
  • Whereas Hamas has increased the range of its rockets, reportedly with support from Iran and others, putting additional
    large numbers of Israelis in danger of rocket attacks from Gaza;
  • Whereas, on November 14, 2012, President Barack Obama condemned the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and reiterated
    Israel’s right to self-defense; and
  • Whereas Israel, as a fellow democracy, has an inherent right to self defense in the face of terrorist attacks: Now,
    therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate —

  1. expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;
  2. reiterates that Hamas must end Gaza linked terrorist rocket and missile attacks against Israel, recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;
  3. urges the United Nations Security Council to condemn the recent spike in Gaza-linked terrorist missile attacks against Israel, which risk causing civilian casualties in both Israel and Gaza; and
  4. encourages the President to continue to work diplomatically with the international community to prevent Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and missiles against Israel.