Operation Protective Edge:
Special Session of the Security Council
Delivered to the Security Council by Ambassador Ron Prosor on 10 July 2014
I would like to thank the Secretary General for his briefing earlier. In the time he spoke, another five rockets were fired from Gaza. One of them fell on a house. I would also like to thank Ambassador Gasana for presiding over this important session.
As I speak, there is a storm of rockets being fired by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza. Hamas is intentionally and indiscriminately threatening the lives of three and a half million innocent men, women, and children in Israel from north to south – from Beersheba to Tel Aviv to Haifa. In the last three days, 442 rockets have been fired into Israel – that’s one every 10 minutes.
Fifteen seconds [siren sounds]. That’s how much time you have to run for your life. Imagine having only 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter. Now imagine doing it with small children or elderly parents or an ailing friend.
A generation of Israeli children is growing up under the shadow of this threat. This abnormal way of life has become the ‘normal’ way of life for many Israelis – and it is absolutely unacceptable. No nation, no people, and no government could tolerate this.
Hamas dragged us into this conflict. On the evening of June 12th three Israeli teenagers - Eyal, Gilad, and Naftalie - were on their way home from school when they were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists.
In the days that followed, Hamas began raining rockets indiscriminately on our homes and our cities. While Israel showed restraint, Hamas responded with unrestrained aggression – more rockets and more terror attacks.
Some in this Chamber have criticized Israel for finally responding to these provocations. They have accused us of reacting disproportionately. Asking Israel to show restraint while our cities are under constant attack is like asking the fire brigade to battle an inferno with nothing more than buckets of water.
No country would accept the threats that Israel faces. We are determined to give Israelis the safety and security they deserve. This week, Israel launched an operation of self-defense, "Protective Edge," – צוק איתן - to counter these attacks, to defend our citizens, and secure for them a life without constant threat.
The goal of our operation is to remove the threat posed by Hamas by dismantling its military infrastructure and restore quiet in Israel. We aren’t looking for a band aid solution that will allow Hamas to rest and regroup. We aren’t going to give them a ‘time out’ so that they can replenish their rocket supplies and hit us again in a few weeks.
Israel is taking great measures to avoid harming innocent civilians. The Israeli Defense Forces warns Palestinians in Gaza of imminent strikes. At the same time, Hamas instructs these civilians to stand on the roof of buildings and act as human shields. Hamas is exploiting our concern for human life by hiding in Palestinian homes, schools, and mosques and using the basement of a hospital in Gaza as its headquarters. They are committing a double war crime: targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.
Hamas is targeting the supply lines of its own people. It is firing rockets at the electrical plant in Ashkelon which is keeping the lights on for the citizens of Gaza. Earlier this week, Hamas blew up a tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing and it is firing rockets and missiles at this critical entry point. Let me be clear – Hamas is targeting the only crossing through which food, medicine and other essentials enters Gaza. This is how much they care for their own people. Despite the attacks, Israel is keeping the crossing open and on Tuesday and Wednesday, 242 truckloads of goods were delivered into the Gaza Strip.
Members of this body have repeatedly criticized Israel for restricting the entry of construction materials into Gaza. Let me tell you what that cement and steel is being used for – it’s certainly not being used to build schools, kindergartens or homes. It is being used to build rockets that Hamas shoots indiscriminately at Israeli schools, kindergartens and homes. And it is being used to build terror tunnels that Hamas uses to kidnap Israelis.
Over the last few years, Hamas has built up a massive military machine with 10,000 rockets. Israel is now acting to dismantle that machine. Hamas is determined to escalate the situation with an arsenal that it acquired courtesy of the world’s primary sponsor of terrorism – Iran. In March, Iran was caught red-handed trying to transfer long-range missiles into Gaza.
These missiles have a range of 160 km and can hit Israel’s largest population centers. Hamas must understand that it cannot target Israeli civilians.
Just this morning, the IDF stopped a car on one of our highways that was packed with explosives and on route to carry out a suicide attack. Earlier this week, their terrorists infiltrated Israel from the sea on a mission to attack a nearby kibbutz.
I would like to remind all of you that the terrorist group behind these attacks has a seat in the Palestinian unity government. Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization by many nations - including members of this Council. The same Hamas that doesn’t recognize Israel and promotes a genocidal agenda by seeking Israel’s destruction. Its Charter clearly states (and I quote) “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”
Hamas is practicing what it preaches. It has sent suicide bombers into our shopping centers, buses, and cafes. It has brainwashed an entire generation of Palestinian children and sent thousands of young people to terrorist training camps. And it has attempted to kidnap 64 Israelis since 2013.
Members of the international community embraced the Fatah-Hamas partnership even though Hamas had not changed its tune or acted in concert with the Quartet principles. It has not recognized Israel, renounced violence or accepted previous agreements. Nonetheless, the international community was willing to buy into this bad deal and now Israeli citizens are paying the price.
It’s time for the international community to right this wrong and make it clear to Hamas that unity does not equal impunity.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian representative sits in this Council and has the audacity to shield Hamas even as this terror organization uses its own people as human shields. In his remarks, the Palestinian delegate didn’t mention a single one of the rockets fired into Israel. 442 rockets and he doesn’t say a word. His silence is as deafening as the rockets exploding in Israel right now.
Through his choice of words, the Palestinian delegate has become the mouthpiece of Hamas. Since when does a terror organization get a seat and a voice in the United Nations?
For years, we have called on the international community to condemn the rocket fire. We were met with silence. For years, we told you about the thousands of rockets that Hamas is smuggling into Gaza. You thought we were exaggerating and you didn’t say a word. For years, we warned of the impending escalation and you ignored us.
Now that the rockets are landing in our backyard and the terrorists are on our doorstep, it is time for you to finally recognize Hamas for what it is – a terrorist organization that should be denounced, dismantled and delegitimized.
Unlike our enemies, Israel believes in the infinite value of human life. The Bible says:
הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ- וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים
I have set before you a choice between life and death. Choose life.
The Jewish people always choose life. Yet this isn’t what we see on the other side. In 2005, Israel evacuated from Gaza and in the process, uprooted 12,000 Israelis from their homes. The Palestinians had the opportunity to build a prosperous and peaceful society. Instead of building the Palestinian people up, they have committed themselves to tearing Israel down. Instead of choosing life, they celebrate death.
In Gaza, you will find public squares and hospitals named after terrorists. Visit a Gaza school and you will see children dressed up as suicide bombers and chanting death threats to Israel. Visit the home of Abu Aysha’s mother and she will tell you how proud she is that her son was behind the kidnapping and murder of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftalie.
A culture that celebrates martyrdom and murder is a culture that will always be at war with itself and with its neighbors.
Israel is on the forefront of the free world fighting radical Islamic terrorism. The threat posed by terrorism is a global threat – ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, and Hamas. From Abuja to Fallujah, terrorists are attacking our schools and skyscrapers, our homes and hospitals, our malls and embassies. No nation is immune.
If you want the nations of the world to stand with you in your battle against terrorism tomorrow, stand with Israel today. The call from your capitals must be loud and clear - opposing terrorism in one place means opposing terrorism in every place.
It is our cities, our homes, and our families that are under fire. I ask each and every person in this Chamber - what would you do if it was your family under attack? What would you expect your own government to do?
There is only one responsible course of action for this Council - condemn Hamas. Condemn terrorism. Condemn the rocket fire. Call on President Abbas to dissolve the unity government and support Israel’s right to defend itself. It is the only way to achieve peace in our region.