New York – The ZOA has called on the Bush Administration to give clear backing to Israeli counter-terrorist measures in Judea/Samaria and Gaza, instead of making statements calling for both sides to maintain calm in the wake of a new wave of attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups upon Israel from Gaza over the weekend.
Between Friday and Sunday evening, nearly 50 Kassam rockets slammed into Sderot in southern Israel and the surrounding area, striking a school, residential buildings, and a community sports center, among other targets. Six Israelis were wounded in the barrage, one losing part of an arm and leg. In response, Israels security cabinet authorized an offensive, beginning Saturday evening, called Operation First Rain, targeting terrorist leaders and hide-outs.
However, in yesterdays State Department briefing, spokesman Sean McCormack responded to journalists questions on the U.S. attitude to these developments by urging all to help maintain an atmosphere of calm, free from violence and for Israel to consider the effect that its actions may have on reaching the overall goal that all share of achieving two states living side by side in peace and security.
While acknowledging that Israel has a right to defend itself; that the PA needs to dismantle terrorist groups; and that Israeli military operations had been preceded by attacks on Israel, Mr. McCormack also alleged that the Palestinian Authority (PA) have taken some actions to maintain an atmosphere, a greater atmosphere of calm. They understand what their obligations are.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The Bush Administration should be giving Israel more support to which it is entitled as a fellow democracy being attacked by vicious terrorist organizations that appear on the U.S. terrorism list. Officials are making inappropriate statements, saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, but in the next breath refusing to support any measures Israel might take, from military incursions to putting up road blocks and everything in between. Or again, saying one moment for the umpteenth time that the PA must disarm the terrorist groups, and the next moment praising the PA for supposedly taking steps although the terrorists remain at large and those of their number killed are praised as martyrs by Mahmoud Abbas, as again happened over the weekend. Either the PA is disarming terrorists or its not. If not — which is the case — our officials should state the truth fearlessly.
Whenever there have been attacks upon American embassies in East Africa, or the September 11 attacks, or the assaults on our servicemen and Iraqi civilians, the U.S. has not adopted self-defeating advice about maintaining calm. The job of the United States armed forces is to protect America and its people.
The job of the Israel Defense Forces, the armed forces of an ally and fellow democracy, is exactly the same. In the current operation, Israel has targeted bomb factories and ammunition dumps, arrested wanted terrorists and killed a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist, Mahmed Halil A-Latif Shiek Halil, who was responsible for numerous deadly attacks on Israeli civilians, including the murder of Tali Hatuel and her four daughters on a highway in May 2004.
These are counter-terrorist successes which should be welcomed and encouraged, not treated as counter-productive. How would the U.S. respond if other governments told it to remain calm after initiating successful operations against Al-Qaeda terrorists? In these circumstances, a call to maintain calm is a recipe for inaction. Failure to support Israeli counter-terrorism measures is inconsistent with American interests and falls short of the support Israel is entitled to receive from its ally, the United States.