Operation Protective Edge is an extension of Israel’s legal right to defend itself, MK Nachman Shai (Labor) wrote to Anne Brasseur, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, on Tuesday.
Shai, chairman of the Knesset Delegation to PACE, outlined the events leading to the military operation in Gaza: Rocket fire from the Strip escalated on June 12 as three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered, and the terrorist fire escalated on June 30.
He pointed out that this took place before a group of Israelis murdered an Arab youth, an act that was “condemned sharply by the entire Israeli leadership,” and that the suspected killers are in custody.
“Over the past three weeks, the Hamas terror organization has escalated its attack on Israeli civilians, launching nearly 300 rockets at our cities – including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and other major metropolitan areas – putting millions of Israeli lives at risk,” Shai wrote. “Families have been forced into shelters, summer camps for children were closed and all normal daily activities [were] impacted. This is unacceptable.”
Shai explained that Israel showed great restraint prior to the operation and sought to restore calm, but those efforts were met with increased rocket fire.
Operation Protective Edge is meant to “defend [Israeli] citizens and secure for them a life free of constant threat,” he said. “Although we are not interested in escalation, we will do whatever is necessary to defend our citizens.”
Shai wrote that Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan and Egypt and its charter calls for the murder of all Jews and the destruction of the State of Israel. The organization was behind 80 suicide bombings killing nearly 1,000 Jews, he continued.
The Labor MK pointed out that Hamas is turning Palestinian civilians into human shields by keeping weapons in densely populated areas and operating in residential areas.
“Hamas terrorists launch rockets indiscriminately at civilians from civilian areas and hide in civilian infrastructures [sic] including mosques, schools and hospitals.
Hamas, therefore, bears full responsibility for any harm they inflict on Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike,” he wrote.
Shai reminded Brasseur that Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 and there is no Israeli presence, civilian or military, there.
“The international community should continue to demonstrate understanding for Israel to exercise its legitimate right to self-defense,” he wrote.