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 war.
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 sites.
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.