Jewish and pro-Israel groups are reacting to the latest round of violence in Gaza after Hamas launched nearly 400 rockets into Israeli civilian areas since Sunday, following the death of an Israeli special-forces soldier.
On Monday night, one man was reported killed and two women injured in the city of Ashkelon when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit their apartment building.
In response, the Israel Defense Forces reacted by striking 20-plus Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, including terror compounds, observation posts and rocket-launching squads. The IDF also blew up Hamas’ main TV channel, Al-Aqsa TV.
On Tuesday, the IDF began amassing troops along the border with Gaza ahead of a possible escalation.
“We are in the midst of a wide-scale process of accumulating more infantry, armored and other forces to the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, and we are mobilizing reserves for Iron Dome operations and the Home Front Command,” IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said.
The U.S. State Department has condemned the actions of Gaza terrorist groups and reaffirmed that Israel has the right to defend itself.
“We are aware of reports of ongoing rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against targets in Israel,” a State Department official told JNS on Monday. “We condemn these attacks and call for their immediate halt. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks.”
‘Send a message: Such behavior does not pay’
Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement: “We condemn in the strongest terms the attack by Hamas, firing rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles from Gaza against the towns and residents of the south of Israel. Hundreds of rockets have been fired indiscriminately towards population centers in the last hours.”
“These attacks specifically target civilians, and a number of Israelis have been injured and property damaged. No country can or should have to tolerate such attacks across an internationally recognized border,” they continued. “Israel must do whatever it deems appropriate to safeguard its citizens and borders, and the international community must not only denounce such attacks in unambiguous terms, but they also must help prevent the weapons flow, technical support and assistance that enables these attacks to continue.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin echoed that sentiment.
“We are outraged by the rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli cities and towns. It underscores again Hamas’s incessant objective of carrying out acts of terror by the random firing of rockets,” he told JNS. “Israel is absolutely justified in carrying out a forceful, decisive response in order to send a message that such behavior does not pay.”
CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee, who is currently in Israel with several hundred members of his ministry, said the actions by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are “abhorrent.”
“They are actively seeking to murder innocent Israelis and force Israel into a full scale military confrontation. The world must unequivocally stand with Israel as the Jewish state does what it must to protect those that Hamas and its ilk seek to kill and maim.”
Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein called for “stronger action.”
“It’s time for Israel to finally take much stronger action to end the intolerable barrage of Hamas rocket assaults that critically injured Israeli civilians, and have made life unlivable for the people and children of southern Israel,” he told JNS. “Israel must stop worrying about world and media reaction, and respond the way any normal country would to protect its citizens.”
“We deplore ongoing Hamas attacks against civilians; each Hamas missile directed against Israeli communities is a separate war crime, and the lack of international outrage is evidence of the anti-Semitic double-standard that Israel faces,” Yaakov Menken of the Coalition for Jewish Values told JNS.
He added that “as a matter of policy, we do not believe it is appropriate for American groups, including Jewish organizations, to intervene in Israel’s internal affairs, or to presume to know Israel’s security needs better than her democratic government and defense forces.”
The American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also expressed their “outrage” over the missile and rocket attacks from Gaza.
“No country can tolerate such assaults on its population. Hamas and all terrorist organizations must immediately halt these unconscionable attacks. Israel has the responsibility and absolute right to defend its citizens,” AIPAC told JNS.
However, the left-wing group J Street called for both sides to exercise restraint.
“At this time, our thoughts are with the residents of southern Israel, with the IDF forces working to keep them safe and with civilians on both sides of the divide,” the organization said in a statement. “We fear that, as has been the case so many times in the past, civilians will be engulfed in a rapid escalation of violence—causing mass devastation and ending in a stalemate that will only set back Israel’s long-term security and exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza.”
“It is frustrating and troubling that this new escalation of violence has come just as the parties were reportedly making major progress toward a diplomatic breakthrough,” added J Street. “We urge all parties to take immediate steps to restore calm and return to this process.”
This article was published by JNS and may be found here.