First, thank you to Senators Klobuchar and Franken as well as Senators Heitkamp (ND) and Thune (SD) for their co-sponsorship of the Senate Resolution defending Israel’s right to self-defense and condemning the unprovoked rocket attacks against innocent Israeli civilians. The House of Representatives unanimously passed the House version last week.
Earlier today, Israel accepted the Egyptian cease-fire proposal which was also endorsed by both the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. Israel halted its targeted airstrikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for six hours. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Hamas to end the rocket attacks by asking, “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”
During this period of Israeli restraint, Hamas continued to launch rockets at Israeli civilian populations. This further underscores Hamas’ true intention of creating terror in Israel and continuing on its path of Israel’s destruction.
Israeli civilians have been besieged by an unprecedented number of terrorist attacks from Hamas and other jihadist operatives in Gaza. Since the beginning of this conflict, over 1,100 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel with the express purpose of killing as many civilians as possible.
While Israel's “Iron Dome” anti-missile system intercepts some of these rockets, many are still hitting some of Israel's most populous cities. For many Israelis, 15 seconds is all the time they have to seek shelter.
Israel's defensive actions in Gaza to stop the rocket attacks are legitimate and necessary measures to protect its people. Like all nations, Israel is entitled to self-defense. A right recognized by the White House ("We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire inside of Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza. No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.") and even the U. N. Secretary General ("These indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.").
Hamas has been targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, including hospitals, schools, mosques, and densely populated residential areas. Israel has made extraordinary efforts to avoid killing innocent Palestinian civilians, including phone calls and the use of effective non-lethal warnings. In fact, some of Israel's fiercest critics have admitted that "[b]y the standards of war, Israel's efforts to spare civilians have been exemplary." (Will Saletan, "The Gaza Rules: Israel, unlike Hamas, isn't trying to kill civilians. It's taking pains to spare them," Slate).
Even as the IDF continues to work around these challenges, Hamas officials praise the use of human shields.
If Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota were under constant rocket attack, we would rightfully demand our government do everything possible to end the attacks immediately. Why shouldn't innocent Israelis currently under siege in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, and Sderot deserve the same protection?
When Israel unilaterally withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005, not a single Israeli soldier or civilian remained behind. Rather than pursue peace with Israel and prosperity for its people, the Hamas-led government has launched thousands of rockets into Israel and thus necessitated Israel’s current security blockade to prevent Hamas from securing even more lethal weapons.
The only way for true peace and security in the Middle East is for the Palestinians to accept the Jewish State of Israel next to an independent Palestinian state. So long as Hamas and other jihadi factions continue to reject Israel’s right to exist and acts upon their hatred through terrorism, there will sadly be no peace.