by Ophir Hacohen, Israel Emissary
If you’ve been reading the news or watching TV in the last few days, you must be aware of the escalating situation in Israel. Whether you have family in Israel, have been on a trip there or you’re just plain concerned…it doesn’t matter.
As I’m sitting down to write this message, I’m feeling tension and anxiety, to say the very least. I’m from Tel Aviv. My immediate family is in Tel Aviv, my grandmother in Holon, my aunt and uncle in Rishon L’tzion: All three cities have all been hit today (Thursday) with rockets. This is the first time Tel Aviv has been hit since the Gulf War, back in 1991. For the first time in years, the citizens in central Israel are becoming aware of the reality of life in southern Israel. And believe me; it is very difficult and stressful.
Some of the questions I’ve been asked today: What is operation “Pillar of Defense”? Why did it start? Who started shooting first?
Here are some answers, direct from the Israeli Consulate General to the Midwest:
Israel has launched defensive operation “Pillar of Defense” in response to the ongoing Hamas assault on Israel's civilian population.
For the third time in the past month, Israel's civilian population has been subject to a barrage of rockets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The latest round began last Saturday afternoon with a deliberate attack on an Israeli military vehicle which was patrolling the Israeli side of the fence with Gaza, and then followed by the shooting of more than 120 rockets into Israel's southern communities.
Since the beginning of 2012, more than 800 separate rockets have been launched at Israel's southern communities,
endangering and traumatizing a population of one million civilians. This number of rockets represents a steep escalation to pre-2008 levels by the terrorist organizations operating out of Gaza.
Israel ended its military and civilian presence in Gaza in 2005.
Instead of using Israel's unilateral withdrawal as an opportunity to build Gaza into a base for peaceful Palestinian national self-fulfillment, Hamas has turned Gaza into a base for an ongoing terrorist assault on innocent Israeli civilians
The IDF targeted Ahmed Jabri,
the head of Hamas' military wing, in the Gaza Strip. Jabri was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas' command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against the State of Israel in the past number of years. The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure.
This was a surgical operation.
The IDF has also targeted a significant number of long range
(over 40km) rockets sites
owned by Hamas in order to hamper the terrorist organizations' rocket launching and weapons build up capabilities.
Ahmed Jabri was the head of Hamas' military operations in recent years, and personally directed numerous deadly attacks against Israel.
He was also directly involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.
As further stated by the Israeli Consulate General: The purpose of Israel's operation in Gaza is defined
and aimed at removing the strategic threat posed from there to Israel's citizens. Israel is not seeking to worsen the situation, quite the opposite.
Israel has responded with great restraint but cannot and will not accept the constant firing from Gaza of rockets and mortars on our civilian population.
Israel is acting in self defense
and out of our duty to protect our citizens from harm. Hamas rules Gaza and bears full responsibility
for the attacks launched at Israel from that territory.
The Knesset has approved the Minister of Defense’s request to recruit 30,000 reserves soldiers and commanders. Israel will do anything to avoid a ground operation, but will take all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the people of Israel.
Now, having read all of this: imagine your next door neighbor throwing stones at your house. Every day, every week. He has been throwing stones at your house all through the day and night. You have to think twice before leaving the house or staying in a certain room, for the fear that the stone will come through your window when you least expect it.
What would you do? Would you just let him keep throwing those stones, when he puts your family at risk? Probably not, right?
Now, consider this: Rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel for 11 years now. 11 years. There are kids who will soon celebrate their Bar Mitzvah, and have spent every day of their lives on edge, wondering when they will hear “Color Red” (code for rocket falling) and have 20 seconds (or less) to find cover. They don’t even know whether or not they will even get to celebrate their Bar Mitzvah with their families, since gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned in certain areas around the Gaza strip for fear of mass casualties and injuries.
I encourage you to seek correct information, and support the citizens of Israel in their quest…their right… for a peaceful and quiet life. Find out what you can do to help:
There is a lot of misguided information and videos and pictures that aren’t true, but are portrayed as reality. Social media is a significant tool, use it!
For other reliable information sources, go to:
Connect with me, and together, let’s support Israel!