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Two days of Terror - In Jerusalem, Jaffa and Petah Tikva

Today March 9, 2016, In Jerusalem a resident of Beit Hanina was seriously wounded when two terrorists tried to run over policemen and civilians and open fire near the light rail stop opposite Damascus Gate. They were shot and killed by police.

Yesterday March 8, 2016: In Jerusalem at the Old City: A Palestinian woman approached Border Police officers on Hagai Street, drew a knife from her back, and tried to stab them. The assailant was shot and killed.

In Jerusalem two Border Police officers were wounded, one critically, when a terrorist on a motorcycle opened fire with an automatic weapon on Salah a-Din Street, near Damascus Gate. The assailant was shot and killed.

In Petah Tikva: One Israeli was moderately wounded in a terror stabbing. The victim removed the knife from his neck and killed his assailant.

In Jaffa a 29-year-old American student Taylor Force was killed and 10 others wounded in a stabbing attack which began near the Jaffa port. The assailant fled on foot along the Tel Aviv beach promenade, stabbing passersby and motorists before he was shot and killed by police.

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised the attacks: "Hamas congratulates the three heroic operations this evening, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Jaffa, and considers this proof of the failure for all these theories to abort the Intifada, which will continue until the realization of its goals. Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations, and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the Intifada."
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Parents of Slain Israeli Teens Spoke in NY

Parents of two of three Israeli teens whose killings by Hamas last summer sparked Gaza conflict joined Jerusalem Mayor Barkat and Rabbi Lord Sacks at UJA-Federation of New York event

NEW YORK, The parents of two of the three Israeli teens who were murdered by Hamas last summer preceding Operation Protective Edge spoke at a UJA-Federation of New York event on Thursday celebrating the Jerusalem Unity Prize.

Racheli Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali Fraenkel, z”l, and Ofir Shaer, the father of Gilad Shaer, z”l, joined Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, in a discussion, moderated by The Forward’s Jane Eisner, to discuss how the tragedy led to the creation of the Jerusalem Unity Prize.

The prize was conceived in partnership with the families of the three boys and the Jerusalem-based organization Gesher as a way to perpetuate the spirit of unity across Israel and around the world during the days following the boys’ kidnapping.

“The support the world has shown us has been incredible,” said Fraenkel. “During those tense days I felt a sense of unity that transcended my anxiety and the desperation of the search for my son. People called from all over Israel and, then, from all corners of the world.”

“After our son’s tragic murder, the most important decision my family made was to open our hearts,” said Shaer. “We feel an obligation to ensure that the personal pain that we have experienced be channeled for the betterment of people all over the world and this is what we all hope this prize will accomplish.”

“The unity that has developed from this tragedy is one of the most important and empowering things I’ve seen in the last decade,” added Barkat, who has been one of the driving forces behind the Unity Prize. “If Hamas had known how its act of terror would bring us together, they wouldn’t have dared kidnap our boys. Unity is a central value in our identity as a people and this prize will afford us the chance to advance these ideals across Israel and around the world.”

The Jerusalem Unity Prize will be presented in three separate categories, each with a prize of up to 100,000 NIS ($25,000). A committee chaired by Barkat, the parents of the three boys, and dignitaries from Israel and the Diaspora will choose the winners.

Eric. S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York said: “These past months have shown us how well we bear each other up in the worst of times. The Jerusalem Unity Prize, which was developed by the families of the three boys— together with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Gesher, and with support from UJA-Federation and others, reminds us to find common ground and raise each other up, not just in crisis — but always.”

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FM Liberman meets US Secretary Kerry in Washington

FM Liberman: Ultimately, the aim of all Islamic terror is one and the same: the destruction of Western civilization. Hence, just as we cannot negotiate with ISIS, we cannot negotiate with Hamas.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman met in Washington D.C. with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Minister Liberman told Secretary Kerry that Israel deeply appreciates America's support during Operation Protective Edge and that the Israeli leadership and people know that the United States is Israel's greatest friend. FM Liberman asked Secretary Kerry to have the State Department's travel warning to Israel changed in the wake of the end of Operation Protective Edge, so that American citizens will know that there is no reason not to visit Israel, and they will not be in any danger.

FM Liberman told Secretary Kerry that Israel supports the United States in its efforts to form a broad international front against ISIS, and stands ready to help in this task should it be asked, taking into consideration the sensitivities of the states taking part and the needs of the United States.

Minister Liberman noted that the war against terror, in all its forms, is the most important taks of the free world today. We cannot differentiate one form of terror from another. The Hamas terrorist activities against Israel and against the people of Gaza are no different from the terror of ISIS. The difference is only semantic and in the media approach adopted by the organizations. Ultimately, the aim of all Islamic terror is one and the same: the destruction of Western civilization. Hence, just as we cannot negotiate with ISIS, we cannot negotiate with Hamas. As long as Hamas rules in Gaza, there will not be peace or security. Anyone who seeks to advance an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must bring an end to the rule of terror within the Palestinian Authority.

FM Liberman also told Secretary Kerry that the need to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state is part of the same struggle, because Iran is the number one exporter of terror in the world. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the world will be a much more dangerous place and the Middle East will enter a nuclear arms race that will convulse the region even more than today. The world powers must stand firm in their negotiations with Iran and continue the sanctions, because there can be no compromise with terrorism.
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President Rivlin meets with Norwegian FM Brende

​President Rivlin: The rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza should be linked to the demilitarization of Gaza, because otherwise Hamas will use the financial aid to further military aims and enhance their ability to attack Israel once again. 


President Reuven Rivlin, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and told him at the start of their meeting, "I would like to welcome you once again to our state and to the region. We appreciate very much your concern and your idea to come to us once again and the appreciation goes with the understanding that you are very much worried about the situation with the people of Gaza."
President Rivlin added that, "The reconstruction of Gaza is one of our interests as much as it is of the all the free world. The rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza should go along with the demilitarization of Gaza because otherwise we can see the next round in no time because the Hamas people once again will spend all the money that the whole world is trying to help them with in order to reconstruct Gaza, and will put it into military aims and the ability to attack Israel once again. We can come to a dead-end once again and we could find ourselves in a very, very serious situation." The President concluded his remarks by saying, "I very much appreciate the idea that you are trying to help all those people who need humanitarian help."
Norwegian Foreign Minister Brende thanked President Rivlin for his kind words and said, "I know that this has been a very difficult summer for Israel. I was here in July and I saw this. It has been tough on Israel and tough on the Palestinian people." He added, "I know now that there are important negotiations on a more permanent ceasefire and the conditions in Gaza under Egyptian leadership and I think that this is important." The Norwegian Foreign Minister also said, "We cannot discuss the Israel and Palestinian situations without looking at in a broader context," and referred to ISIS and the situation in Iraq.
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Operation Protective Edge: Egyptian FM announces ceasefire

On Tuesday evening, August 26, the Egyptian Foreign Minister announced a ceasefire, which entered into effect at 7 pm.​ Israel has agreed to Egyptian proposal for ceasefire that will be unlimited in time.

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, 4,562 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza - 1,042 since the violation of the ceasefire on August 19 - killing six civilians and wounding 127.

A rocket hit an Ashkelon home Tuesday morning, wounding over 20 people, including six young children.Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. In the afternoon, a rocket exploded in the playground of a kindergarten in Ashdod.
Shortly before 6:00 pm, Ze'ev Etzion, 55, and Shahar Melamed, 43, of Kibbutz Nirim were killed and four wounded in a mortar attack on the Eshkol region.

On Tuesday evening, the Egyptian Foreign Minister announced a ceasefire, which entered into effect at 7 pm. Until then, rocket alerts sounded throughout Israel's south. Hamas claimed responsibility for a rocket fired towards Tel Aviv.


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Israel's UN envoy says Qatar is a 'Club Med for terrorists' destabilizing the Middle East

WJC, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Ron Prosor, has lambasted the Persian Gulf emirate Qatar for bankrolling terrorist groups such as Hamas and called it a "Club Med for terrorists".

Qatar's then emir Hamad ben Khalifa Al Thani with Hamas leader Haniyeh in Gaza in 2012In an opinion piece for the 'New York Times', Prosor urged the world to work forcefully to halt Qatar’s ability to bankroll the terror groups, specifically Hamas. “Today, the petite petroleum kingdom is determined to buy its way to regional hegemony, and like other actors in the Middle East, it has used proxies to leverage influence and destabilize rivals,” the ambassador wrote. “Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read ‘Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar,’” Prosor added.

He also accused the Qatar-based news network 'al-Jazeera', which is funded by the emirate’s ruling house, of spreading “radical messages that have inflamed sectarian divides” across the Middle East.

“In the early days of the Arab Spring, al-Jazeera’s coverage of popular uprisings earned the network millions of new followers and solidified its status as a mainstream global news network,” Prosor continued. “Qatar capitalized on this popularity by advancing its own agenda — namely, using the Arabic network to promote the views of extremists who were undermining the region’s more pragmatic elements,” he said, later singling out the Muslim Brotherhood as the main group enjoying Doha’s support.

Prosor said that Qatar was deliberately undermining Israel’s efforts to end Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip by “pulling the strings” of the Palestinian organization and forcing the group to reject cease-fire proposals.

It was “all because Doha wants a starring role in any cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel,” Prosor asserted.

According to Prosor, Qatar "harbors leading Islamist radicals like the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a religious fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and the Doha-based history professor Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, whom the United States Department of Treasury has named as a 'terrorist financier' for Al Qaeda. Qatar also funds a life of luxury for Khaled Meshal, the fugitive leader of Hamas. Mr. Meshal’s uncompromising stance — he has vowed never to recognize Israel — has long been an obstacle to reaching a peace deal. But behind Hamas, Qatar is pulling the strings...It is time for the world to wake up and smell the gas fumes."

The Israeli diplomat suggested that “in light of the emirate’s unabashed support for terrorism,” FIFA should reevaluate its decision to name Qatar the host of soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

The international community had to realize that while “Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a liberal, progressive society,” it was in actuality “aggressively financing radical Islamist movements” and destabilizing the region, Prosor wrote.

“Qatar’s continued sponsorship of Hamas all but guarantees that, whatever happens in this round of hostilities, the terrorist group will rearm and renew hostilities with Israel,” he said. “The only way forward is to isolate Hamas’s last major backer.”
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Statement by PM Netanyahu


Operation Protective Edge has not ended, because this is a continuing campaign. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations has continued for many years. Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit very hard.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:

"First, I would like to personally turn to the IDF soldiers and commanders, to the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in Operation Protective Edge, to the wounded who are recovering in hospital, to the residents of communities close to the Gaza Strip, to the residents of the Negev, the greater Tel Aviv area, Jerusalem and the coastal plain, and to all citizens of the State of Israel.

I would like to commend you and to thank you for the steadfastness and extraordinary unity that the citizens and soldiers of Israel have shown during the past weeks. I want you to know that the ultimate responsibility for your security and peace is mine, as Prime Minister. I am concerned for the security and peace of all Israelis, both the sons that we have sent to the front and the families that are strong and determined in the home front.

Our goal is that the residents of Kerem Shalom, Sderot and the other communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv will be able to sleep quietly and that the children of Ofakim, Netivot, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva won’t have to run to the protected areas at school.

Along with my colleagues, especially Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who is currently attending a memorial ceremony for IDF soldiers, we are taking all measures to complete the campaign and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves: The restoration of quiet and security for you all. We are doing this in full cooperation, with sagacity, responsibility and determination, and thus shall we continue until the goal is achieved.

One consideration stands before me - the good of the State of Israel. And this consideration is the only one that guides my decision-making, as well as that of the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff, no other object, no harsh words from either the Right or the Left, and I condemn all harsh words, and no other interests, only the responsibility for the security and peace of all Israelis. Accordingly, I will continue to act with determination, responsibility and sagacity.

Operation Protective Edge has not ended, not even for a moment, because this is a continuing campaign and I am not speaking only about recent weeks. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations is long and has continued for many years - against Hezbollah, Al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, which is part of an Islamic terrorist network the newest member of which is a murderous gang, another terrorist organization, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and it has also attacked Lebanon.

In recent weeks we have hit Hamas very hard on the battlefield. All of the networks that it built in order to attack us have been foiled.

First of all, we prevented - via Iron Dome - attacks by thousands of rockets against our communities. We have killed hundreds of terrorists. We have destroyed thousands of rockets and launchers. We broke up the network of assault tunnels that Hamas built over the years in order to launch simultaneous attacks against our communities and we foiled all of its attempts to attack us from land, sea and air.

This is the harshest blow that Hamas has taken since it was founded. And I remind you that we have already dismantled its capabilities in Judea and Samaria and blocked its attempts to carry out a coup. We did all this before and during the operation. We have hit Hamas very hard. We are determined to continue the campaign by all means for as long as it takes. We will not stop until we have assured full security and a quiet life for the residents of the south and for all Israelis.

Hamas thinks that it can wear us down. It is mistaken. The Israeli people are strong. Instead of attrition, Hamas will be crushed - its infrastructures, terrorists and commanders.

Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit, and not just hit but hit very hard. And if Hamas does not understand this today, it will understand it tomorrow. And if not tomorrow then the day after tomorrow because in the Middle East, one needs not just military power but stamina and patience.

My grandfather came here in 1920, here to Jaffa. Several months after he came here, thugs burst into the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa and murdered Jews, in this area, including the well-known author Yosef Haim Brenner. This was almost 94 years ago.

Since then we have been fighting against terrorism - with considerable success. In this time we built our state, developed our cities, developed our economy and created a magnificent army.

Our spirit has not fallen, not even for a moment. On the contrary, it has grown, as has our unity, and we must continue to maintain our internal unity, as well as the courage and resilience of the nation and the home front.

All of these are vital components of our national strength. All of these are foundation stones as we fulfill the mission we have set for ourselves - restoring quiet and security, and I would like to add, in light of the very dramatic changes taking place in our region, not all of them negative, I also add achieving a new diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel."

Following are remarks in English by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference:

I hope President Abbas plays a constructive role. He has an opportunity to do so. I think he has to understand obviously that no one, and least of all Israel can accept the kind of terror attacks that are coming from Hamas. I think that were acting well within our rights, probably more rigorously than any, I would say. No other country has acted more rigorously than Israel in defending itself within legitimate means. And I expect President Abbas to do that.

I will look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror, to fulfilling the previous obligations that we have. And I think this is part and parcel of the larger picture that I'm talking about. We have to think carefully how we tie in the new circumstances to the advantage of peace and against terror.

Hamas is like ISIS. ISIS is like Hamas. They're branches of the same tree. And I can say that the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of Isis. You saw this, the beheading of an American journalist, Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people. Well, we face the same savagery. The people who wantonly rocket our cities and want to conduct mass killings, and when they can they murder children, teenagers; they shoot them in the head, throw people from the sixth floor - their own people; and use their people as human shields.

Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas. They're the enemies of peace; they're the enemies of Israel; they're the enemies of all civilized countries. I believe they're the enemies of the Palestinians. And I'm not the only one who believes it.
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Hamas admits to kidnapping Israeli teenagers

WJC, A senior Hamas official has acknowledged that the organization’s military wing was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June.

In a video posted by Israeli media, Hamas spokesman Salach Al-Aruri told a conference organized by the World Association of Muslim Scholars that the armed wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping of Israeli teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach. According to the 'Jerusalem Post', Al-Aruri praised the “heroic action of the Qassam Brigades who kidnapped the three settlers in Hebron.”

Hamas’s leadership had formerly denied any involvement with the kidnappings. Previous reporting in American and Israeli media had suggested that Hamas was either not involved or that the kidnapping was carried out by a rogue group within Hamas.

However, Israeli officials have long insisted that the Hamas organization in Gaza had ordered and financed the attack. Al-Aruri’s statement appears to validate that claim.


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Ceasefire once again violated by rocket fire


Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, over 3,500 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza. PM Netanyahu: "Israel will not negotiate under fire. We will achieve the goal of Operation Protective Edge either militarily or diplomatically, or by a combination of both.​​​​

August 19

At about 3:30 pm, three rockets fired from Gaza hit Beersheva and Netivot, violating the ceasefire.​
PM Spokesperson: This is a “grave and direct violation of the ceasefire to which Hamas committed itself.”
The IDF is targeting terror sites in the Gaza Strip in response to the rocket fire.​


August 18

PM Netanyahu: "The Israeli team in Cairo has been instructed to insist on Israel's security needs and the IDF is prepared for very strong action if fire is resumed."
DM Yaalon: "Operation Protective Edge is not over. As we promised, we will not stop until we bring quiet and security. We are prepared for the results of the discussions in Cairo whether it brings quiet or if someone tries to challenge us with escalation."


August 17

PM Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting: "From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: Insist on the security needs of the State of Israel. Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings... If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken."


August 14

Despite the firing of eight rockets towards the end of the 72-hour ceasefire at midnight on Wednesday, 13 August, the ceasefire has been extended for five days, until midnight on Monday, 18 August.


August 11

The Kerem Shalom Crossing, closed on Sunday due to rocket fire, was reopened.


August 10

Since the end of the ceasefire (8:01 on Friday, August 8), Hamas has fired over 130 rockets at Israel.

At 12:30pm a barrage of rockets struck inside the Kerem Shalom Crossing through which humanitarian supplies are transfered from Israel to Gaza, forcing its temporary closure until workers can safely operate in the area, and preventing 280 trucks of humanitarian aid, including food and medical supplies, from reaching the people of Gaza.

PM Netanyahu to Cabinet: "Operation Protective Edge is continuing. At no stage did we declare its conclusion. The operation will continue until its goal is met - the restoration of quiet for a long period... Israel will not negotiate under fire and Israel will continue to take all action in order to change the current reality and bring quiet to all of its citizens..."

PM Netanyahu to Pres Rivlin: "We said at the start of the operation that Israel would not negotiate under fire and we have proven that we stand behind these words. Since Hamas violated the ceasefire on Friday, the IDF has struck it very hard. We are determined to achieve the goal of Operation Protective Edge - the restoration of quiet for the residents of Israel for a lengthy period while striking significantly at the terrorist organizations. I said at the beginning of the operation: We will achieve this either militarily or diplomatically, or by a combination of both."

An Egyptian-brokered 72-hour ceasefire came into effect at midnight on Sunday, after Israel said it would not negotiate in Cairo unless the rockets stopped. Minutes before the declared ceasefire, rockets were fired at Beersheba and Tel Aviv, following a day of rocket fire directed at Israel's south.


August 8

Israel agreed to Egypt's call to extend the 72-hour ceasefire. Shortly after 4 am, with the ceasefire still in effect, two rockets struck in open areas near the Eshkol Regional Council.
At 8:01, two rockets were fired towards Ashkelon, marking the renewal of rocket fire from Gaza, as Hamas refused to extend the 72-hour ceasefire.

By 10 am, over 18 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel: 2 were intercepted over Ashkelon, 14 hit open areas and 2 landed in Gaza.​ At 10:30 rockets were fired at Sderot.
After 2.5 hours of rocket fire from Gaza, PM Netanyahu and DM Yaalon ordered the IDF to respond with force.
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PM Netanyahu holds press conference

Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza's general demilitarization. 

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement and answers to questions at his press conference for the foreign press on Wednesday evening, 6 August:

"The rectangle that you see in the center is the UNRWA's Shahada al-Manar elementary school for boys.

That's the thing that you see there in reddish color and you see right around that four mortars fires. Five mortars are fired. One mortar fired. One mortar fired. Right around that school. It’s very important to see that and to understand what kind of conditions our forces are facing from Gaza.

You see the big building to the right of the arrows? That's a school. You see civilian houses in a distance of a few meters, a mosque literally touching the school, civilian houses around it. This is where the terror tunnels are dug, and may I say that in many places the terror tunnels were dug from homes. From homes. From inside the homes. So, that is an example again of the use of civilian areas both to fire rockets at our civilians and to dig the terror tunnels for the death squads to reach our people, kidnap and kill them.

I expect, now that the members of the press are leaving Gaza, or some of them are leaving Gaza, and are no longer subjected to Hamas restrictions and intimidations, I expect we’ll see even more documentation of Hamas terrorists hiding behind the civilian population, exploiting civilian targets. I think it’s very important for the truth to come out.

The goal of Operation Protective Edge was and remains to protect Israeli civilians. That means to protect our people from roughly 3,500 rockets, three thousand five hundred rockets that Hamas and the other terrorist groups have fired on our cities, on our towns, on our civilians, on our children in the last month. The goal of this operation was to protect our people from the threat of terror tunnels built to send death squads into Israel, to commit terrorist atrocities against Israel’s civilians, to kidnap and to kill.

Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty, every single one. We do not target them; we do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas; our enemy are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. And we've taken extraordinary circumstances and measures to avoid civilian casualties. The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas – a tyrannical and fanatical terror group that relishes civilian casualties. They want civilian casualties. They use them as PR fodder. So it’s not that they don't want them; they want them. And they pretty much say so. Indeed Hamas has adopted a strategy that abuses and sacrifices Gaza’s civilians. They use them as human shields; they endanger them and deliberately increase the death toll. They fire their rockets at Israel from schools, from hospitals, from mosques. You've just seen that. From urban neighborhoods, and right next to schools where journalists are staying. You can discover that for yourself.

Of course nearly everyone says that they support Israel's right to defend itself, and we appreciate those who say this. But there are those who refuse to recognize or to let Israel exercise that right. They would allow Hamas to attack with impunity, because they say they're firing from schools or from mosques or from hospitals and Israel should not take action against them. That's obviously a mistake. It's a moral mistake. It's an operational mistake. Because that would validate and legitimize Hamas's use of human shields, and it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere and a devastating effect to the free societies that are fighting terrorism.

If this were to happen, more and more civilians will die around the world, because this is a testing period now. Can a terrorist organization fire thousands of rockets at cities of a democracy? Can a terrorist organization embed itself in civilian areas? Can it dig terror tunnels from civilian areas? Can it do so with impunity because it counts on the victimized country to respond as it must, as any country would, and then be blamed for it? Can we accept a situation in which the terrorists would be exonerated and the victims accused?

This is the issue that stands not only before the international community today regarding Israel; it stands before the international community with a wave of radical terrorists that are now seizing vast cities, civilian populations and doing exactly the tactic that Hamas is doing. That's exactly what ISIL is doing, what Hezbollah is doing, what Boko Haram is doing. What Hamas is doing is what is al-Qaeda is doing. And the test now is not merely the test for the international community's attitude towards Israel - an embattled democracy using legitimate means against these double war crimes of targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians. The test is for the civilized world itself, how it is able to defend itself.

Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. Now I want you to know that at that time, the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal, which went into effect yesterday morning. That means that 90%, a full 90% of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now.

Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza's general demilitarization. That is the sure way to guarantee that this conflict will not repeat itself. And I'm very glad that Secretary Kerry and others have put forward the need to demilitarize Gaza. This is a long-standing Palestinian obligation yet to be fulfilled. Setting anew this long-term goal is important for Israel, it's important for the people of Gaza and for all of us who want to see an end to the violence and an end to the suffering.

Every civilian casualty is a tragedy. A tragedy of Hamas's own working. I think the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel put it best when he said, "Hamas is engaging in child sacrifice. And this is something for which it must be held accountable. For the sake of all our children, it must not be allowed to get away with this."


Question: "[Inaudible] I wanted to ask: You mentioned the Israeli [inaudible]. That was before the ground operation, before the tunnels [inaudible] and I wanted to ask, will you therefore, if Hamas had accepted the ceasefire at that stage, the tunnels would not have been dealt with and I wanted to ask therefore, people are asking, was it a strategic goal, was it the goal of this operation, was Israel kind of improvising, was there a strategic plan here or were you [inaudible].

And a second question if I may, we've seen since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, since the West Bank operations, since the Gaza operation, they are rioting, attacks [inaudible] violence in Jerusalem, riots in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and I just wondered if there is concern at the spread of the violence [inaudible]."

PM Netanyahu: "Thank you. We started dealing with the tunnels - first of all, we were going to deal with the threats posed from Gaza either by military means or by diplomatic means - one of the two or both. We began dealing with the first tunnel before the Egyptian initiative. I don't know if you're aware of it, but we had information about an impending attack from one terror tunnel and we took action before we had the air attacks on our, before we had the air attacks on Gaza in response to their rocketing attacks. We actually dealt with one tunnel.

If we could have dealt with the rest of the tunnels through the Egyptian proposal, which had an immediate ceasefire as we have now, and both sides could raise the topics and specifically the issue of security would be released. That was mentioned there. When we said security, we meant obviously that we would bring up the question of the tunnels: could we deal with it through non-military means and the other threat against Israel - and that's preferable. As it turned out, Hamas rejected this and therefore we had to deal with them in military means. So we addressed the other tunnels, in addition to the one we had already addressed with military means by doing the, by actually going in.

That first tunnel was struck from the air. We didn't know that it achieved the result and it's very hard to achieve that result from the air. You either achieve it by agreement or you achieve it by actually going in to the other side, finding the points of origin of the tunnel or a point of origin, identify the trajectory of the tunnel and then dismantling it, destroying it through various means. And that's basically what we did. If we could have done it diplomatically, fine. If not, we did it militarily and the army just told us that they completed this activity and then we went out. We went in to deal with the tunnels; we went out after we finished dealing with the tunnels.

[Regarding the Jerusalem question] Well, obviously we're concerned. We hope that everyone, everyone will work now to calm the situation. That has been our goal from the very beginning in Jerusalem, everywhere, in the Palestinian areas. We don't need to see loss of life there anymore than we want to see it on the Gaza front. I want to make sure that - you mentioned the Temple Mount - so I want to make sure that everyone understands that Israel respects and will continue to respect the status quo on the Temple Mount. We know that there are arrangements there, including the traditional role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and we are not about to change it."

CNN: "Prime Minister, [unclear] for CNN. First of all, the IDF has suffered the largest casualties yet in any Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We understand 61 soldiers killed, three civilians. We've seen more than 1,800 people killed in Gaza, 900 or almost 1,000 of which are civilians, estimated. Do you really feel that your actions, Israel's actions were proportionate? And were you using the appropriate precision weapons even if Hamas is using them as human shields?"

PM Netanyahu: "Why don't you ask the first question? Let me answer that, then you can ask the second question. Why don't we do that? So first of all, the answer to both your questions is yes, I think it was justified, I think it was proportional and that doesn't in any way take away from the deep regret for, we have for the loss of a single civilian. We've gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they have civilian casualties, as you've just seen.

Now, let's imagine your country - it could be any country, could be the US, could be Britain, could be Germany, France, India, you name it. Let's imagine your country attacked by 3,500 rockets. Your territory is infiltrated by death squads. What would you do? What would you demand that your government do to protect you and your family? You'd demand that and you'd be right because security, protecting the people, is the first obligation of any government. But what if the rockets are fired from civilian areas? And the tunnels come from schools, from mosques, from private houses where civilians live? Should you then not take action?

Do the terrorists have immunity because of the fear that some civilians will unfortunately get hurt?

Let me tell you what I think disproportionality is: It's not acting to defend your people and giving the terrorists a license to kill. I think that's disproportionate and that's wrong.

Financial Times: "Thanks very much. Mr. Prime Minister, are you prepared to give Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority a leading role in the post-war order in Gaza? And if so, can you talk about that, specifics, including policing the borders?"

PM Netanyahu: "We have cooperated and are cooperating with the Palestinian Authority on matters that you raised. There are other matters as well, and the answer is that we are cooperating with them and are prepared to see a role for them.

Q: [Inaudible]

PM Netanyahu: "We're dealing with that right now. I think it's important in the reconstruction of Gaza, in assuring the humanitarian aid and also the security questions that arise, that we have these discussions and the cooperation with them. And in fact, the ceasefire was coordinated, among other things, with them. It came from Egypt, but they were aware of it and they were speaking to, for the factions, as you know.

As far as the humanitarian aid, since I mentioned it: You know, we've given 2,000, we've passed roughly 2,000 trucks of humanitarian aid during the last month or so in which this conflict raged. We even gave humanitarian aid - most of these trucks came during the fire. A lot of them came during the ceasefire, the humanitarian ceasefire that Hamas refused to recognize for its own people. It's quite amazing. We have to do the ceasefire, the humanitarian ceasefire efforts when Hamas doesn't do it so we even sometimes, many times actually, unilaterally called ceasefire humanitarian pauses, which they didn't recognize, but we put in the trucks.

We opened a field hospital right on the Gaza passage, in the Erez Crossing on our side, and we called Palestinians who have a problem with hospitals that were being used by Hamas as terrorist sites, as command centers, as firing posts, and we said, okay, we'll open a field hospital and we did on our side. And you know what Hamas did? It prevented and warned Palestinians not to go there. Well some of them straggled through somehow and we dealt with them. And we are now dealing with our people to address the fuel, throughout the conflict, fuel, electricity stoppages and so on.

So Israel is going all out on humanitarian effort, and we're prepared to do more and we think more should be done. We just hope that Hamas will start caring for its people and stop preventing humanitarian aid for them, stop sacrificing them as human shields, stop shooting them when they protest because that's what happens when people protest and they say to Hamas, "What have you done to us?" Well, they just execute them. Just as they prevent journalists from putting out the full truth and journalists, justifiably are concerned. I can understand that.

And Hamas, Hamas does incredible things, just incredible things. There is a report - it's not my report, it's the Journal of Palestinian Studies in 2012. Note the year. It's a few years ago and they've since, they've done more things. Hamas officials, according to the Journal of Palestinian Studies, reported that at least 160 children had been killed digging the tunnels. There is something fundamentally wrong here. Hamas is sacrificing its people, sacrificing its children and it should not be allowed to get away with it. These are tragedies. The loss of a single child is a tragedy. The loss of mothers, women, families, is a tragedy. But this tragedy should be put squarely where the responsibility for it belongs. The responsibility for this tragedy belongs with Hamas. It's a deliberate strategy."

Washington Post: "Mr. Prime Minister, you mentioned Secretary Kerry's comments supporting demilitarization of Gaza. I'm wondering if you also support what he said about the need to think bigger now, to use the Cairo talks as an opportunity to think more broadly about a two-state solution and if so, what will Israel do to move in that direction?"

PM Netanyahu: "First of all, I had a very good conversation with John, with Secretary Kerry today. We work very closely with him and with the US Administration, with President Obama, throughout this operation and before. And there are reports of the substance and the tone of our relationship that are distorted. They don't capture the essence of the common values that bind our societies together and bind our governments together. And I appreciate the support that the United States has shown for Israel's right to self-defense and the appropriation that I asked for, for an additional 225 million dollars of support for Iron Dome. I think these are all very important things for which the people of Israel are deeply grateful and I want to express that.

I think the Secretary's statement on demilitarization as a strategic long-term goal is very important. I think he's right that there are opportunities now, perhaps opportunities that we have not seen before with a realignment of important parties in the Middle East to be able to fashion a new reality, one more conducive to the end of violence, to the establishment of calm, a sustainable peace or at least a sustainable quiet which can lead to other things. That is yet to be seen, but that is a goal I think worthy of exploration and pursuit. That's my goal."
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