Jeremy Leibler, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, strongly condemned Tuesday’s rocket strikes into Israel.
“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.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli forces killed Baha Abu al-Ata, an Islamic Jihad commander who had orchestrated a recent round of rocket fire, and who was reportedly actively organising another round of violence.
Islamic Jihad, which is sponsored and armed by Iran, used the attack against one of its combatants to launch an indiscriminate attack against Israeli civilians.
Sirens have been heard in Tel Aviv and a large number of southern towns and cities closer to Gaza. Israelis are rushing to shelters and safe rooms (specially constructed rooms in apartments built specifically to counter rocket threat). Schools and business were closed due to the threat.
Israel’s anti-rocket systems, including the Iron Dome, have successfully shot down numerous rockets from Gaza, thus minimising Israeli civilian casualties.
In May this year, Palestinian groups fired over 700 rockets in Israel.