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Israel’s Consul General to the Midwest Orli Gil's remarks at the We Stand With Israel Community Rally

The Honorable Orli Gil's address at the Israel Solidarity Rally in Federal Plaza Jan. 9

15 seconds.  8-year old Osher Tweeto had only 15 seconds to run when the sirens started, and this was the last running he would ever do, because the missile from Gaza destroyed his legs.  Both of his legs had to be amputated.
 
This is not a horror movie, but daily reality in the South of Israel for the past 8 years. we pulled out of Gaza in 2005.  No Israeli soldier or civilian has been in Gaza since.  Yet, 6,500 missiles have been fired from Gaza into Israel since
 
We had hoped that self-rule would be used by the Gazans to build hospitals, homes and schools. 
Instead, they have built warehouses to store ammunition.
 
We had hoped that their self-rule would lead to cooperation and good neighborly relations with us.
Instead, there were missiles, mortars and attempts to attack our borders.
 
We had hoped for trade relations to develop the economies of both Israelis and Gazans. 
Instead, there was hostile gunfire and attacks on crossing points.
 
Hamas has no interest in peace.  Hamas has no interest in good neighborly relations.  Hamas has no interest in prosperity.  It rejected the Annapolis Peace Process and indeed any other peace process. 
 
Israel has agreed to a six-month cease-fire, but it was used to obtain new Iranian-made missiles which reach as far as the cities of Ashdod and Be'er Sheva.
 
One million Israeli citizens are now living in the shadow of this terror.
 
We cannot tolerate this any longer.  The duty of every government is to protect its people, and we had to respond to these threats.
 
It was the hope for peace that led us to withdraw from Gaza, and the terrorism of Hamas that compelled us to re-enter now. 
Hamas shows no concern for the lives of Palestinians.  It holds the citizens of Gaza hostages; it hides missiles and arms in warehouses in the most densely-populated areas. Its headquarters are set up in high-rise apartment buildings. 
 
Attacks against Israel are carried out from within and around schools and other U.N. facilities- sometimes, with tragic results, as occurred only 3 days ago.
 

Let me quote an announcement by Hamas spokesman Fathi Hamad on Al-Aqsa Arab TV: "Palestinians have created a human shield of women, children, and the elderly, for the jihad fighters, as if to say to the Zionist enemy: We desire death, as you desire life." [End quote]
Let me repeat: "We desire death, as you desire life"
 
 Every civilian death is a tragedy.  Israel takes steps to minimize harm and to avoid Palestinian casualties as much as possible.  However, even Israel's best efforts are not enough when Hamas intentionally places the lives of their people in the line of fire.
 
Israel secures the free passage of humanitarian aid—food and medical supplies—into Gaza.  This is done even in the midst of the fiercest attacks against us.
 
Let it be said loud and clear: we are not at war with the Palestinian people.
 
We are not at war with the innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.
 
We are at war with a shrewd, ruthless terrorist movement that has managed to seize ruling power in Gaza by force.
Since the beginning of the operation in Gaza, we have hit thousands of military targets there, ammunition arsenals and production facilities for rocket launchers, as well as missiles. 
 
 The challenge we face now is: that 6 months from now we will not end up back in the exact same place we were before we started this operation.  We are not interested in a band-aid solution that will be temporary, and, in the long run, more dangerous. 
 
Our aim is to create a new security reality for the citizens in the South of Israel, so that the threat of Hamas will no longer hang over their heads. 

For that, we need cooperation from other nations.  We need cooperation to stop Hamas using its sophisticated system of tunnels to smuggle ammunition across the border with Egypt. We need cooperation to stop Hamas from smuggling missiles originated in Iran, as part of Iran's effort to globalize the Islamic Revolution. 

The international community must understand that any agreement to end this war must meet Israel's objective to change the security reality in the South of Israel so that Hamas can never again threaten the citizens of Israel.
 
 I warmly thank you all for coming here on this cold snowy day to show your support for the state of Israel and her people.  We need you, we need your empathy, and we need your understanding now more than ever, and we truly are grateful for that.
 
Israel looks forward to the time when nations in our region will place greater value on building better societies for their peoples, instead of acquiring weapons to destroy their neighbors. The time to transform peace from hope to reality has come.



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