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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Statement from the Jewish Community Relations Commission on the IDF’s Movement of Troops into Gaza       July 17, 2014


The JCRC would like to update the community with the following news.  Following another day of heavy rocket attacks by Hamas and the infiltration of guerillas into Israel, Israel’s government authorized Israeli troops to enter Gaza, this evening, to defend Israel’s citizens.


We are thankful that President Obama has spoken unequivocally in support of Israel’s obligation to defend itself:   “I will say very clearly, no country can accept rocket fired indiscriminately at citizens. And so, we’ve been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas…” Similar sentiments have been expressed on a bi-partisan fashion by many members of the United States Congress.


The ground incursion comes after Hamas launched more than 1350 rockets from Gaza since July 8th, targeting 75% of Israel’s population and Hamas’ rejection of Egypt’s recent ceasefire proposal.  During the ceasefire observed by Israel, Hamas had launched 50 rockets.


In attempting to eliminate Hamas’ launchers and its supply of missiles provided by Iran, and while targeting its military command centers, regrettably innocent Gazans have been killed.  Not to minimize the tragic death of innocents, we hold Hamas entirely responsible – as does international law -- for those who died when it fired rockets from amid civilians or used civilians as human shields. 


As reported today, Egypt placed the responsibility squarely on Hamas for Israel’s ground operation. “Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal,” stated Sameh Shoukri, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, “it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians.”


Although we are disappointed that Hamas’ actions made it necessary for Israel to initiate a ground operation, we hope that the objectives of the incursion can be attained rapidly and that the dangers posed by Hamas to Israelis as well as to Gazans can be controlled if not altogether eliminated.  Peace and the establishment of a permanent two states for two peoples resolution of the broader conflict remains the ultimate goal.


Jarad Bernstein, Chair, Jewish Community Relations Commission of the  

                        Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines

Mark S. Finkelstein, JCRC Director


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