As Casualties Rise, Netanyahu Accuses Hamas Of War Crimes
By Herb Keinon
As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas mulls applying for membership in the International Criminal Court as a way to press charges against Israel for alleged war crimes, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders on Wednesday that Hamas was guilty of two types of war crimes.
“Hamas is committing a double war crime by intentionally trying to hit Israeli citizens, and using the local Gaza population as human shields,” Netanyahu said. As a result, Hamas should be held responsible for the unintentional killing of civilians in Gaza, he said.
The prime minister repeated that message in conversations held in Israel on Wednesday as well with German Chancellor Angel Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
These conversations were part of Netanyahu’s efforts to garner international understanding and support for its actions in Gaza, even as Palestinian casualties—including the numbers of civilians killed unintentionally—are rising.
The prime minister is expected to have more conversations with world leaders on Thursday. One leader he has not yet spoken to, and, indeed, has not spoken to for months, is U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama, in an op-ed to appear on Thursday in the German weekly Die Zeit, called on both sides to show restraint. “At this time of danger, everyone involved must protect the innocent and act in a sensible and measured way, not with revenge and retaliation,” Obama wrote.
Netanyahu said in his conversations on Wednesday that no country would tolerate continued rocket fire and attempts to infiltrate its territory from the sea and underground, through tunnels.
Hamas is recognized around the world as a terrorist organization, and the international community should be aggressively condemning the continuous rocket fire on Israel from Hamas and other terrorist organizations, the prime minister said.
Abbas, after an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Gaza, accused Israel of no less than committing “genocide” against the Palestinians.
Before speaking to the world leaders, Netanyahu—following security deliberations held in Beersheba—said Israel would step up its actions against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating from Gaza. “The operation will expand and continue until the rocket-firing on our cities stops, and the quiet returns,” he said on the second day of the military operation.
The prime minister has consistently defined the objectives of the operation in relatively modest terms—to restore the quiet—not, as some are suggesting, to topple Hamas or destroy its rocket infrastructure inside Gaza. Those later objectives would necessitate a ground action, something Netanyahu has said the IDF was prepared for, but which he has not yet ordered.
Following the meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz, and OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sammy Turjeman, Netanyahu said that the IDF was prepared for all contingencies.
“Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing on Israeli citizens,” he said. Our army is strong, the home front is firm, and our people are united. That combination is our answer to the terrorist organizations that want to harm us,” he said. “We are all united in the aim of hitting the terrorist organizations and restoring the quiet.
Netanyahu called on the public to continue to heed the instructions of the IDF Home Front Command, saying those instructions “save lives.” (JPost.com) v
Hamas: We Attempted
To Hit Nuclear Reactor
By Yaakov Lappin
Three rockets were launched at Dimona in southern Israel on Wednesday afternoon. The Iron Dome system intercepted one rocket before it could land, while two other rockets landed in open areas.
Dimona is the location of Israel’s nuclear reactor. There was no indication that rockets had damaged any part of the reactor. Hamas claimed responsibility for the rockets, stating that it had been attempting to hit the nuclear reactor. Militants from Hamas’s Qassam Brigades said they had launched long-range M-75 rockets towards Dimona.
Minutes later, Iron Dome intercepted rockets in Ness Tziona, Yavne, and Rehovot in central Israel as Gaza terrorists extended the range of their rockets on Operation Protective Edge’s second day. Earlier on Wednesday, two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip were intercepted over the Greater Tel Aviv area. Code Red rocket alert sirens sounded in Holon and Bat Yam prior to the interceptions. No injuries or damage were reported in the attacks. The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rockets fired toward Tel Aviv. Rocket alert sirens also sounded in Zichron Yaakov, some 120 km north of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
The IDF confirmed that two rockets fell in open areas of the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council south of Haifa. The attack marked the furthest north that rockets from Gaza have fallen. A Code Red siren sounded in nearby Binyamina on Tuesday, but that proved to be a false alarm. Channel 2 suggested that the rockets may have been the Syrian-made M-302 type rocket, which was used to target Hadera on Wednesday.
More than 80 rockets fired from Gaza have been launched at Israel on Wednesday.
The IDF launched Operation Protective Edge early on Tuesday morning to try to eradicate increased rocket fire from Gaza. Hamas has increased the range of its rocket fire during Operation Protective Edge, launching attacks at Ashdod, Hadera, Tel Aviv, and the Jerusalem area, in addition to the western Negev communities which neighbor Gaza.
The Iron Dome rocket defense system has intercepted dozens of projectiles fired toward population centers, limiting the injuries caused by the attacks. (JPost.com and Reuters) v
64 American Olim Arrive
By Anav Silverman
Despite the escalating security situation in Israel, 64 new olim from the United States made aliyah to Israel this Tuesday with Nefesh B’Nefesh. The new immigrants hail from Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.
The youngest immigrant is an eight-month-old baby and the oldest, Lottie Herman, is 92. Herman, who fled Germany in 1939 to America, will be settling in Jerusalem.
Among the other olim who arrived this morning was Becky Kupchan, 26, from Chicago. Kupchan will be moving to Beer Sheva, the capital city of Southern Israel.
“Although the security situation in Israel is very tense right now, and in Beer Sheva where I’m about to move rockets are falling, I am not afraid and I trust the Israeli government and the IDF,” said Kupchan, after she arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport. “I’m a Jew and I’ve always dreamed about making aliyah to Israel, my home—and at home you always feel safe.”
“The olim who’ve chosen to make aliyah to Israel during these challenging days are real heroes, and each one of them fills our heart with pride and great inspiration,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Becky from Chicago, who has chosen to live in the city of Beer Sheva in the South, is one of them and we will do whatever we can to assist her in her new home in the State of Israel.”
The aliyah of Tuesday’s group was made in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, KKL and JNF-USA, and Nefesh B’Nefesh.
According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, 97% of its olim have remained in Israel thanks to its support programs and comprehensive social services for more than 38,000 newcomers.
The new Israeli citizens will be moving to Bet Shemesh, Givat Shmuel, Hadera, Jerusalem, Karmiel, Modiin, Nes Tziona, Ra’anana, Ramat Bet Shemesh, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, and Beer Sheva. (Tazpit News Agency) v