Gaza: leadership condemns rockets

November 13, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Australian community leadership has spoken out on the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.

Pic: TPS

Jeremy Leibler President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, said: “Any attack that deliberately targets civilians is a war crime”, said Mr Leibler. “Palestinian groups in Gaza have unleashed this barrage against Israeli civilians in a flagrant violation of the laws of armed conflict and must be held to account.”

Mr Leibler further warned against comparing the Israeli strike and the Palestinian response. “The Israeli strike was a pinpoint attack designed to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties now, and to prevent future Israeli casualties at Mr al-Ata’s hands. The Palestinian response is designed to maximise Israeli civilian deaths, and to bring about an Israeli response in a perverse attempt to engender Palestinian deaths.”

“I truly hope this round of violence does not further escalate”, he said. “While Israel cannot abide by its civilians being targeted, it does not want to go to war.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has condemned the ongoing rocket attacks from terrorist groups in Gaza aimed at civilian targets in Israel, including major population centres in Tel Aviv and in central and southern Israel.

“These rocket attacks were occurring before yesterday’s killing of Baha Abu al Ata, a senior commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and they have continued since”, said ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim. “The claim being made by some groups and media outlets that the firing of rockets at Israeli cities has only commenced in response to the killing is a blatant falsehood”.

“It was al-Ata who ordered the rocket attack towards a music festival in Sderot on August 25, and a further rocket attack against that city as recently as November 1”, Wertheim noted. “Al- Ata was personally responsible for terrorist activity, including rocket and sniper attacks, aimed at Israeli civilians over a long period of time. The IDF had intelligence that he was about to order another such attack. Under international law, Israel has the right to defend itself against an imminent attack of this nature, and it has a duty to its citizens to do so”.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in its entirety, is listed as a terrorist organisation under Australia’s Criminal Code. It receives directions and much of its funding, weaponry and training from the Iranian regime and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. It is openly committed to the military destruction of Israel.

“Like other Palestinian terrorist groups, Palestinian Islamic Jihad deliberately targets Israeli civilians while ensconcing its own terrorists in high-density civilian areas in Gaza, in order to use Palestinian civilians as human shields”, Wertheim said. “That constitutes a double war crime – deliberately targeting Israeli civilians, and deliberately putting Palestinian civilians in harm’s way”.

We express our solidarity with the people of Israel in this difficult time and call on Australian politicians to condemn without equivocation or delay these gross violations by the Palestinians of the laws and norms of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.

We also call upon all sections of the media to report accurately on the targeting of civilians in Israel by Palestinian terrorist organisations in rocket attacks, as and when they occur, and not merely on Israel’s response to them.

In the wake of around 200 rockets fired into Israel since yesterday, injuring several Israelis, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today condemned Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad for their “blatant war crimes” and  “callous contempt for human life” –  while also pointing a finger at Iran for inflaming the current conflict as part of its “program of aggression and encirclement against Israel.”

AIJAC’s Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein said,  “Once again, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have resorted to the blatant war crime of firing rockets and mortars in large numbers at civilian areas, again demonstrating a callous contempt for human life – not only Israeli, but also among the Palestinians of Gaza they purport to lead.”

“While some will attempt to claim that Israel started the violence by killing Islamic Jihad military commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, this is not only an example of false moral equivalency, but misrepresents the real triggers that led to the current violence. Israeli intelligence says Abu al-Ata was in the midst of preparing a new major campaign of violence when he was killed. That was the initial escalation, not Israel’s efforts to pre-empt this violence by targeting him,” he added.

“Furthermore, there is no question that under the laws of war, as a military commander, Abu al-Ata was a combatant and therefore a completely legitimate military target – in stark contrast to the blatant war crimes of the rocket attacks launched against Israeli civilians from Gaza.

“Finally, no one should neglect Iran’s central role behind the scenes in igniting this escalation. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran – armed, trained, financed and commanded by Teheran. It is known that Iran has recently been pushing PIJ to dramatically escalate violence from Gaza against Israel, with Abu al-Ata one of its key agents for doing so. So the current violence should be seen as part of a larger Iranian program of aggression and encirclement against Israel – stretching across Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as Gaza,” Dr. Rubenstein concluded.

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