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Israel lobbies world support for Gaza operation
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
11/15/2012
Netanyahu speaks with Obama, Biden over escalation in South, Gaza; Foreign Ministry: IDF has a duty to protect nation’s citizens.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday spoke with US President Barack Obama and US Vice President Joe Biden about the escalation in Gaza and southern Israel.

Obama expressed support for "Israel’s right to self-defense in light of the barrage of rocket attacks being launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians," according to a White House press release. Netanyahu, in turn, thanked the US leaders for taking the position that Israel had a right to defend itself.

Obama also spoke with Egyptian President Mohamad Morsi, reiterated Israel's right to self-defense and expressed hope that Egypt would play a stabilizing role in the region.

Israel's Foreign Ministry has embarked on a massive public relations campaign to explain to world governments that Wednesday’s targeted killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari was necessary to save lives.

“It is very important to explain to the nations of the world that Israeli citizens have a right to live in peace and security just like any other citizens of the world,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said at a meeting with top officials in his office to assess the evolving situation. Israelis don’t want to live their lives amid sirens warning of incoming rockets, he said.

Israeli officials said the decision to react militarily to five days of continual rocket attacks came after pleas for international intervention were ignored.

Israel had wanted the international community to take action. When that failed to happen, it took matters into its own hands, the officials said.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, Ron Prosor, sent two urgent letters to the Security Council and the secretary- general on Monday and Tuesday, asking them to condemn Hamas and to take action.

“In letter after letter and speech after speech to the Security Council, the secretary- general, and other bodies of the UN, I have conveyed the great danger of the continuous rocket fire from Gaza,” Prosor wrote.

“No nation, no people and no government can accept the daily targeting of its cities and its citizens. There are going to be consequences,” he wrote.

On Wednesday evening, the Foreign Ministry immediately went into partial emergency mode.

It also sent its ambassadors a package of talking points and historical background, so they could best explain the operation to their host governments.

Already on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paved the way, by hosting a large meeting of foreign ambassadors in Israel.

Police showed the envoys the different missiles that Palestinians had fired into Israel.

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The foreign ambassadors heard victims’ testimony, saw video clips of attacks and listened to Netanyahu explain how the situation was intolerable.

In its package to Israeli ambassadors, the Foreign Ministry explained that Gazans had fired more than 120 rockets and missiles at one million civilians living in southern Israel since Saturday night, when Palestinians in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep.

It noted that Palestinians in Gaza had launched 800 rockets at Israel this year.

Ambassadors were told to clarify that Israel was not interesting in seeing the Gaza situation deteriorate.

The IDF operation, the Foreign Ministry said, was aimed at removing the strategic threat to Israeli citizens.

The military acted out of self-defense and out of a duty to protect its citizens, the ministry said.

Israel was showing restraint but it could not continue to tolerate the continued attacks, the ministry said, and added that no state would do so.

The ministry blamed Hamas for the attacks and said it was responsible for everything that happened in the Gaza Strip.

It noted that since Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005 it had become a “breeding ground” for terrorist groups, including those associated with al-Qaida and global jihad.

Weapons smuggled into Gaza from Libya, Iran and Sudan had strengthened terrorism from the Strip, the ministry said.

It noted that Hamas was committing a double war crime in that it hid behind civilians in Gaza so that it could fire against Israeli civilians.

Israel, in turn, had attacked military targets and made every effort not to harm the civilian population in Gaza, and regretted any injuries to non-combatants.

Border crossings into Gaza have remained open for goods, humanitarian aid and routine pedestrian passage, the ministry said.
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