Obama condemns J'lem attack, touts 'importance of calm'

Israel’s UN ambassador writes letters to Ban, UN Security Council pointing out increase in terror activity.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 23, 2011 18:56
3 minute read.
President Obama

Obama 311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama harshly condemned the bomb attack in Jerusalem Wednesday and expressed his condolences for Palestinians killed in Gaza the day before.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Jerusalem today, as well as the rockets and mortars fired from Gaza in recent days,” Obama declared in a statement.

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“Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences for those injured or killed.”

Obama stressed Israel’s right to defend itself and urged those responsible to desist.

“There is never any possible justification for terrorism,” he said. “The United States calls on the groups responsible to end these attacks at once and we underscore that Israel, like all nations, has a right to selfdefense.”

Obama continued by noting the death of Palestinian civilians Tuesday, saying “we also express our deepest condolences for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza yesterday.”

He emphasized “the importance of calm” and urged all parties “to do everything in their power to prevent further violence and civilian casualties.”

In New York, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Meron Reuben wrote letters to UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon and the Security Council expressing his “grave concern” in the face of the bombing attack near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

“Clearly intended to harm innocent civilians, this appalling and criminal attack also injured more than 40 people, according to initial reports, leaving three people in critical condition and five people in serious condition,” Reuben wrote, noting that the attack followed a “marked increase” in terror activity deliberately targeting Israeli civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

Reuben also noted that earlier in the day, two Grad-type Katyusha rockets were fired by Palestinian terrorists at Beersheba, with one landing in the middle of a residential area in the city, injuring one man and damaging nearby buildings, including a synagogue.

Also on Wednesday, Reuben wrote, a Katyusha rocket was fired close to Ashdod, and eight mortars were fired into the Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev regional councils.

Noting that the past week has seen 63 mortar shells and four rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel, Reuben called it “an unprecedented increase in the projectile fire emanating from the Gaza Strip since the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2009.”

As Reuben has noted in six other letters to the secretarygeneral and Security Council, “such attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip constitute a clear violation of international law and must be addressed with the utmost seriousness.

“Israel holds the Hamas terrorist organization – the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip – fully responsible for all attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip,” Reuben wrote.

“In response to the relentless attacks against it, Israel has exercised and will continue to exercise its right to self-defense, as appropriate, and will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens. Israel will also do all in its power to bring to justice the terrorists that committed the horrific crimes against its citizens today in Jerusalem.”

The attempt to transfer weaponry from Iran to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip through Syria via the ship Victoria, Reuben wrote, is “a blatant violation of numerous Security Council resolutions, including Security Council resolution 1860 –– and represents only the tip of the iceberg of these two countries’ illegal efforts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.

“In view of these troubling developments, Israel expects the Security Council, the Secretary- General, and the international community to condemn all of these attacks in very clear terms and send a firm message to these terrorists and their patrons, which seek to escalate conflict,” Reuben wrote, adding that the international community and Security Council should devote more attention to prevention of arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“Unfortunately, this important issue – an integral part of Security Council resolution 1860 – does not receive the appropriate attention that it deserves,” Reuben concluded.

In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “This appears to have been a callous and disgusting act of terrorism directed against innocent civilians, which I condemn unreservedly.

I would like to express the UK’s unwavering support for the people of Israel in the face of such horrific acts.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.


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