Despite leaving every last inch of Gaza in August
2005, and ever since the Hamas coup in June 2007, the population centers of
southern Israel have been terrorized by thousands of mortars and missiles fired
from Gaza. Forty percent of Israel's population (3.5 million Jews and Arabs) is
under threat of rocket fire from Gaza. Hamas’ most recent escalation made an
untenable situation an unmitigated provocation, constituting acts of
Each nation has a fundamental right to self-defense,
and we unequivocally support Israel's right to the same in this instance. We
hope, for the good of all – Israelis and Palestinians – that Hamas, designated
a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, ceases its fire and
its exploitation of Gazans as human shields in schools, hospitals and houses.
In contrast, even as it tries to protect her innocent
civilians, Israel is taking steps to provide advance warning (via leaflets and
calls to cell phones) to Palestinian families in Gaza to evacuate target
In the past week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and his cabinet have exercised substantial restraint in the face of
Hamas itching for a fight. That restraint has been met by Hamas deliberately
escalating and provoking.
We look to the understanding of
the international community for Israel’s plight. There is no “cycle of
violence.” The cycle is actually that there are Hamas arsonists, and the Israel Defense Forces are
deployed to extinguish the fires. Too often, we
hear diplomats call for restraint on “all sides.” Such messages are misleading
and hypocritical. The only message, the only answer, is for Hamas and its
affiliates to stop the rocket attacks. Now.
We pray for
the peace and security of Israel, and continue to yearn for the day when she
will enjoy that peace and security amidst all her neighbors. In the meantime,
we stand with her and our Israeli brother and sisters.