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CJP, JCRC Joint Statement on Operation Protective Edge

Early Tuesday morning Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Protective Edge against Hamas, aimed at stopping what had become a relentless and intolerable barrage of rockets launched from Gaza at innocent civilians in southern Israel.

Rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza are, sadly, nothing new, and Israel has shown remarkable restraint in its responses for many months, despite the fact that millions of Israelis live within easy striking distance of Hamas' indiscriminate fire.

During the past several days, however, while Israel searched for the murderers of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, and while Israelis joined their leaders in expressing dismay and condemnation at Muhammad Abu Kheidr's death, Hamas chose to increase its attacks on Israel.

Over the last 72 hours alone, more than 300 rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel, 140 of which were launched just last night, and all of which were aimed at Israel’s civilian population. Hamas has boasted that its rockets can reach all of Israel; indeed the Iron Dome anti-missile battery just this afternoon intercepted a rocket headed for Tel Aviv. Residents in Southern Israel have just 15 seconds to reach shelter and most have spent days in hardened shelters, rockets pounding the earth over their heads and sirens blaring warnings about the next incoming barrage.

Southern Israel has become a war zone, terrorized by craven extremists who hide among Gaza residents, emerging to commit acts of terror before slinking away again into the camouflage of Gaza’s schools and residential buildings; and now much of Israel is under direct threat from a regime that claims to be part of a “reconciliation government.”

No nation can be expected to tolerate such an assault on its citizens, and Israel has every right to defend itself vigorously and decisively. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, has notified the Security Council of Israel's intent to exercise its right of self-defense and has requested that the Council immediately rebuke Hamas. The United States has already expressed its support for Israel's defensive actions.

Hamas’ intentions to harm not only Israeli citizens but willfully and knowingly to endanger even 1.6 million residents of Gaza deserve condemnation by decent and law-abiding persons everywhere. Yet given toxic international attitudes toward Israel, we can expect that Israel will, paradoxically, be condemned for its use of force against an enemy that embeds its weapons in schools, hospitals and homes, all with the intent of provoking civilian casualties.

In such an environment, decent people everywhere need to be especially firm, vocal and unequivocal, and need to express not only support for Israel, but an absolute intolerance for Hamas' cowardly assaults launched from residential areas. The IDF can and will stop Hamas. It’s up to us to let the world know that Hamas terrorists must no longer be given military, political or financial support from its ideological allies in Iran and elsewhere. It’s up to us to correct the record, to expose Hamas’ misrepresentations, and to give Hamas no quarter in the media.

When global opinion recognizes Hamas for what it is, when media focuses on the moral outrage that Hamas perpetrates on a daily basis, not only will the risk to Israeli citizens be reduced, but Hamas itself will be marginalized, its support eroded, and prospects for calm in Israel and in Gaza will improve markedly.

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