By Alanb Tristra
The Israeli Embassy in Wellington says the operation in Gaza is not of Israel’s choosing.
“Time and again, Israel acted – and refrained from acting – in order to avoid a confrontation.” says the Embassy.
“In stark contrast to Israel’s restraint, Hamas has consistently taken actions designed to inflame the situation further and extend the hostilities.”Events leading up to Operation
The Embassy says the current round of hostilities began on Thursday, June 12, when terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip launched another round of rocket fire, directed primarily at communities in southern Israel. The rocket fire at Israel escalated sharply on Monday, June 30, and peaked a week later, on Monday, July 7, when no fewer than 80 rockets were launched at Israeli cities, it says.
The Embassy adds: “Hamas bears responsibility for the current situation. Many of the rockets were fired directly by Hamas terrorists. This terrorist organization is also accountable for rockets launched by other terror groups by virtue of the fact that it has controlled Gaza since 2007.
“In the 26 days between June 12 and July 7, approximately 300 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Hamas directs its rockets at Israeli civilians. Each launch of these indiscriminate weapons that targets civilians is a war crime.
“During this time, Israel demonstrated great restraint. Its measured responses were intended to restore calm, without the need for a major military action while Israel concentrated its main efforts on the diplomatic arena.
“The operation was launched in response to rocket attacks, nothing more.”
Many Palestinian supporters have tried to portray Operation Defensive Edge (which began on July 8) as a reaction to the tragic events in Israel and the West Bank in the prior weeks, the Embassy says. “That is a distortion of the facts and the timeline.”
“The operation was launched solely as a defensive response to the increasing rocket attacks directed at Israeli territory from Gaza.
“Moreover, while the rocket fire began on June 12, the day that three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped (and later found to have been murdered), it started before Israel was aware that they had been taken and searches by Israel’s security forces did not begin until the next day.
“The June 30 rocket escalation began hours before the bodies of the three teens were found and days before the July 2 murder of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem.”
The First Stage
The Israeli Embassy says when the attacks reached over 80 rockets a day, Israel had no choice but to take action against the incessant launchings at its civilian population.
“On July 8, Israel responded with Operation Protective Edge,” it states.
“The objective of the operation is to restore stability and quiet to the residents of Israel, to damage Hamas’s capabilities and to destroy the terror infrastructures directed against Israel and its citizens.
“Millions of Israeli civilians are under rocket attack. Like all other nations, Israel has the right of self-defense and is obligated to act decisively when its citizens are being targeted.”