Israel Begins “Pillar of Defense” In Response To Hamas Attacks From Gaza

PHILADELPHIA, PA. – In the last week alone, Hamas, a terrorist organization, has launched 150 rockets at Israel’s south. Currently, 15% of Israel’s population is currently under a terrorist attack.

Israel cannot tolerate the escalation of rocket fire aimed at its citizens.

To impair the terrorist infrastructure, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with targeted strikes against those responsible.

The Israel Air Force (IAF) seriously impacted Hamas’s long-range missile capabilities and underground weapons storage facilities. The IAF has acted restrained and surgical in its response to the Hamas missile escalations, and has not targeted the long-range missiles stored in mosques, schools, and hospitals. Hamas, conversely, is deliberately firing at Israeli civilian population centers, including schools, hospitals and houses of worship.

More after the jump.  
Hamas rockets fired at Israeli civilians in the past have had a range of up to 25 miles. Today, the IDF targeted the Fajr-5, which has a range of nearly 40 miles, putting three million Israelis within terrorist missile range. This additional range encompasses the major metropolitan area of Tel Aviv.

As part of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel eliminated Ahmed al-Jabri, the head of the Hamas military wing, who joined Hamas in 1995 and rose to a senior leadership position in 2004. He was directly involved in numerous terrorist attacks against Israel, including the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

“We are sending an unequivocal message that our citizens will not be hostage to terrorist missile fire and cross-border attacks,” Ambassador Michael Oren said. “The scope of the IDF’s defensive operation depends on Hamas and whether it takes the decision to cease firing missiles on our neighborhoods and homes. Israel has the right and duty to defend itself from terrorist attacks designed to kill thousands of its citizens.”

Consul General to the Mid-Atlantic Region in Philadelphia, Mr. Yaron Sideman commented, “We are not acting in a vacuum. In the past 24 hours, Israel has endured 120 missiles fired indiscriminately at our nation. In the past year, over 800 missiles were fired. In 2009, over 2500 missiles were fired at our citizens. Israel showed much restraint to numerous attacks. “

Obama and Israel

— by Steve Sheffey

Move a Chicagoan to San Diego and soon he’ll forget the wind, sleet and snow and start complaining when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. Relations between Israel and the United States are warmer under President Obama than under previous administrations, yet we hear that the President has a “Jewish problem.” The problem is not Obama, but us: In only three years, we’ve lost historic perspective. We’re criticizing Obama for what would have gone unnoticed in other administrations.

  • Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger threatened to “reassess” America’s relationship with Israel. Obama has declared that America’s bond with Israel is “unbreakable,” and Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak credited Obama for the strongest relationship between the two countries ever.
  • Ronald Reagan suspended arms shipments to Israel and supported a UN resolution criticizing Israel for bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor. Obama secretly sold Israel the bunker busting bombs it requested during the Bush administration and cast the only UN veto of his administration against the one-sided anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution on settlements.
  • George W. Bush pressured Israel to allow Hamas to participate in Gaza elections and made little progress in stopping Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons. Obama has not negotiated with Hamas. He has mobilized the international community to impose the toughest sanctions ever against Iran and flat-out declared that he will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, saying no options are off the table.

Obama’s pro-Israel accomplishments compare favorably with any Republican president. Yet we keep complaining.

We say he has not visited Israel as president, forgetting that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are the only two presidents who visited Israel during their first terms in office. George W. Bush did not visit Israel until his seventh year as president. Ronald Reagan never visited in his entire life. Obama went to Israel as recently as 2006 and 2008.

We complain that the Obama administration criticizes Israel’s settlement policy, forgetting that every administration since 1967 has criticized Israel’s settlement policy. But unlike George H.W. Bush, Obama never threatened to withhold U.S. aid to Israel because of settlement activity; instead, Obama has taken U.S. financial assistance to Israel to record levels.

We complain about imagined slights to Prime Minister Netanyahu, forgetting that when the chips were down, Obama came through for Israel and Netanyahu. When Israel asked for help fighting the Carmel forest fires, President Obama’s response was “get Israel whatever it needs. Now.”

In September 2011, when the late-night call came from Israel to Obama asking for help in rescuing the Israelis trapped in the Egyptian embassy, Netanyahu himself called it a “decisive and fateful moment,” recalling that Obama “said ‘I will do everything I can.’ And he did.”

The list goes on and on. Obama opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, and successfully derailed Palestinian attempts to unilaterally declare statehood at the UN. He’s done more than any president to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Yet despite the facts, despite the historic perspective, it’s almost as if some of us want Obama to be anti-Israel because that would validate our worst fears. Attacking Obama on Israel is like attacking John Kerry on his personal military record. The Swift Boat campaign worked because Kerry and his supporters were too slow to take it seriously and fight fiction with facts. The result was four more years of George W. Bush.

Maybe it’s our nature to complain. But President Obama’s words and deeds prove that he is not only a strong friend of Israel, but that he is willing to stand up for Israel publicly and behind the scenes. That’s what matters, and that’s why most Jews will again vote for Obama in 2012.
Reprinted courtesy of the Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update. Subscribe at http://visitor.constantcontact…

JTA: Obama “Owns U.S. Backing for Iron Dome”

JTA’s Ron Kampeas wrote that President Barack Obama rightfully deserves credit for his leadership in support of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Kampeas wrote:

The following assertion has been up occasionally in the conservative blogosphere: That Iron Dome, the system that successfully defended Israel from a recent spate of Gaza-based rocket attacks, was launched under the aegis of President George W. Bush.

But that turns out not to be correct. In fact, Obama more or less owns U.S. backing for Iron Dome.

Conservatives who make the claim seek to undercut another recurrent meme peddled by pro-Israel Democrats, that President Obama’s decision to underwrite the project is evidence of his pro-Israel bona fides (Obama earmarked $205 million for Iron Dome above and beyond the $3 billion average that Israel gets in defense assistance each year, and Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, is working with lawmakers in Congress who want to appropriate more for additional batteries.)…

A Congressional Research Service report in March (PDF) assessing foreign aid to Israel squarely attributes funding to Obama. (The Iron Dome chapter starts on p. 10 and an illustrative chart is on p. 15.)

In March 2010, the Obama Administration announced that it would support $205 million in defense assistance to Israel for the purchase of up to ten Iron Dome batteries.

Israel began developing Iron Dome in 2005 and it became a priority in 2007, but there’s no evidence that Bush gave funding for the project an advance nod. The Pentagon spokesman in this May 2010 Reuters report pegs the funding decision to the fall of 2009, when Obama was president.

Romney Lies to Israeli Press on Obama’s UN Record

Gov. Mitt Romney lies to Amos Regev and Boaz Bismuth of Israel Hayom about Obama’s UN record.

(NJDC) When Mitt Romney speaks these days, it’s fair to question how much of what he says is actually the truth. So when Romney told Amos Regev and Boaz Bismuth of Israel Hayom that:

I cannot imagine going to the United Nations, as Obama did, and criticizing Israel in front of the world. I believe that he should have mentioned instead the thousands of rockets that are being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

We have to wonder which speech he was referring to.

Was it President Barack Obama’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2011, where he said:

America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses.  Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

That was, after all, the speech that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised by saying, “I think that standing your ground, taking this position of principle… I think this is a badge of honor and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor.”

This is, of course, not the first time Romney has willfully lied on the issue. After spreading the same mistruths during a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney was immediately rebutted by both The New York Times and PolitiFact.

If this was the speech Romney was referring to, then he lied again-this time to the Israeli press about the powerful pro-Israel address Obama gave before a hostile crowd at the UN.

If Romney can’t seem to tell the truth when it comes to the current state of the U.S.-Israel relationship, how exactly are American Jews supposed to believe him when he makes other statements on the issue?

Ashkelon Saved By Iron Dome Anti-Missile Batteries

From DEBKAFile:

Palestinian missile fire from the Gaza Strip accelerated Saturday night with five Grads fired at Ashkelon. This was a serious escalation in the weeklong barrage – despite the talk in Israel and by Gaza spokesman of a slowdown in violence. Iron Dome anti-missile batteries intercepted all five Grads. During the day, 45 Qassam missiles were aimed at smaller Israeli locations – 28 exploding harmlessly in Israel, three thwarted by Iron Dome and 14 landing on the Gazan side of the border.

Million Israelis in Shelters as Rocket Terror Continues

Palestinian terror groups in Gaza fired more rockets at Israeli towns and cities Sunday, forcing one million Israelis into bomb shelters and closing schools for a quarter million students.

Since Friday, Palestinians fired more than 140 rockets and mortars from Gaza at Israeli communities, wounding at least eight Israeli civilians. Five different Palestinian terror groups claimed responsibility for the attacks. In statements to the media on Saturday, the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Al-Aqsa brigades, Abdul Qader Al-Hussaini Brigades and Islamic Jihad all boasted that they had fired at Israel.

Photo: Kindergarten children in Nativ Ha’asara near the Gaza border take cover in a bomb shelter during a similar rocket attack last year.

More after the jump.
The Gaza Strip is controlled by the Iran-backed Hamas terror organization, which rejects the peace process and allows other terror groups to operate openly.

“We hold Hamas responsible for the recent incidents since the terror organization currently has jurisdiction in the area,” said Israeli army spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. “The Hamas movement, although it is not the one performing the launchings, is not doing anything to prevent it either – We hold them responsible and will continue to defend and attack as necessary.”

Terror groups had launched at least 59 rocket and mortar attacks so far in 2012, including two early Friday that prompted an Israel Air Force attack Friday afternoon, killing PRC leader Zuhir al-Qaisi. The Israeli military said it also had intelligence reports that al-Qaisi’s group was preparing to stage another attack similar to a PRC assault last August that left eight Israelis and five Egyptians dead.

Over the weekend the Israel Air Force targeted rocket launching teams, killing at least 15 terrorists. Palestinian sources confirmed that all 16 deaths on their side were militants, with reports Sunday saying two Palestinian civilians were among the 18 dead.

The Israeli-made Iron Dome air defense system successfully shot down at least 35 of the rockets that were heading towards heavily populated centers, including the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva.

Despite the escalation of violence, Israeli security officials decided to leave the border crossings in the Gaza strip open for commercial and aid shipments.

So far this year, the number of rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians has reached 235, according to a count by The Israel Project.

Missles Rain On Israel: Terrorists Fire over 100 Rockets

— by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Today, as I write to you, over half a million Israelis have been forced to spend their Shabbat (Sabbath) in bomb shelters. Terrorists, based in Gaza and backed by Iran, have fired over 100 missiles, rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and villages. Eight people were injured but fortunately the Iron Dome missile defense system, joined developed with the United States, intercepted 25 of the most dangerous missiles before they could hit major population centers.

More after the jump.
Today is a terrible day for Israel and for the Palestinians. As more than 80 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel, there is horrific and needless bloodshed yet again. In 2005 Israel gave up Gaza with hopes of peace. Thousands of Israeli citizens moved from Gaza so that the Palestinians could have a better future. But Iran-backed Hamas took control of Gaza.

Since then thousands of rockets have been fired by terrorists from Gaza. These rockets are aimed intentionally at Israeli civilians – even a school bus was targeted in the past. This weekend eight Israelis have been wounded. Thankfully, new technology with “Iron Dome” is saving lives in Israel. But yet again Israel has been forced into a defensive position where they must take pre-emptive action to avoid the loss of civilian lives.

Imagine, this is what happens when Iran does not have nuclear weapons to share with their proxies Hamas and Hezbollah. Given their proven system of arming, funding and training terrorists, how much worse would this be if Iran had nuclear weapons? The world must condemn the rockets now and must work even harder on sanctions to help stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Palestinians must end the terror and come to the table to create a real peace and better future for both sides.

If this is what Iran’s terrorist allies can do now, just think what they will do if Iran develops a nuclear bomb. Today, the terrorists know there are certain red lines they cannot cross — but they will become bolder and more deadly if they think they can hide under Iran’s nuclear umbrella. Their violence will have no bounds.
Israel has responded with carefully targeted attacks that go after the terrorists firing the rockets and missiles and their leaders. Israel avoids targeting civilians – while the terrorists aim specifically at civilians.

Please use TIP’s automated system to send a letter to your elected officials and newspapers now and urge them not to ignore the dangerous situation developing in Gaza.  Use the talking points but try to write in your own words. Make your voice heard today!

Americans need to know the dangers that Israel faces every day and the existential threat it would face if Iran gets a nuclear bomb. Remember, this is a country whose leaders repeatedly vow to wipe Israel off the map.

UN Gaza Flotilla Report Vindicates Israel

Panel Commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Upholds Israeli Self-Defense as Legitimate

— by Sharon Bender

United Nations “panel of inquiry,” led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and the May 31, 2010, Israeli flotilla raid seeking to violate it were justified.  

In contrast with a separate U.N. Human Rights Council “fact finding mission” that had prejudged Israel as guilty, both Israel and Turkey participated in the Palmer panel, commissioned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report suggested that the Turkish government had enabled the maritime provocation by the Turkish extremist group IHH.  

This report finally validates and vindicates Israel’s right to defend itself.  

More after the jump.
The Mavi Marmara was one of six so-called humanitarian ships that had attempted to break through a blockade meant to prevent weapons-smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza. The report does, however, unfairly criticize as “excessive and unreasonable” the force the Israel Defense Forces used while intercepting the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship-a vessel on which Israeli naval commandos were assaulted.  

“Whatever efforts it undertakes in self-defense, Israel is inevitably accused of employing disproportionate force,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “The fact that violence did not ensue on other ships headed for Gaza demonstrates that Israeli soldiers never sought confrontation, but were, in this instance, forced into it. The report exposes last year’s flotilla as another example of reckless political gamesmanship.”

Israel instituted its blockade of Gaza in response to the actions of Hamas: the control that terrorist group has seized in the coastal territory and its incessant rocket attacks on the Jewish state. At the same time, Israel facilitates importation of humanitarian supplies and materials vital to the area’s residents, and had offered to receive goods from the ships at a safe port and truck them into Gaza.

“Israel responded legally and professionally to the security threat to Israeli citizens that these ships posed,” said Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “This report is a positive first step in correcting the record at the United Nations that has been bent on vilifying Israel.”

Israel itself established a public commission, led by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the flotilla episode. The body found that Israel’s military acted in accordance with international laws and practices.