H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations

Excellency,

I am writing to you to convey Israel’s strong protest following the recent escalation on the ground in southern Israel in the last few days, initiated by the Hamas terror organization.

This latest escalation took place only few days after the Security Council adopted resolution 1850. While we were all congratulating the positive progress that was made during the last year in promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas announced the end of the “state of calm”.

This is a serious development that endangers peace and stability in the region. The responsibility for these alarming developments lies exclusively with Hamas, as was already mentioned in the briefing by the special envoy of the Secretary-General to the Middle East, on 18 December.

Prior and following the announcement of the end of the “state of calm” on 19 December, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations — including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — increased the frequency and intensity of their attacks from the Gaza Strip against the civilian population in southern Israel. Over one hundred rockets and mortars were launched against Israeli towns and cities in the last five days alone.

Let me mention again –– as I did in my speech to the Security Council on 18 December –– that 2008 witnessed a record number of more then 2,900 rockets and mortar shells that were launched from the Gaza Strip targeting Israeli territory.

Excellency,

Israel is interested in continuing the “state of calm” and has thus far demonstrated restraint in its response to the current escalation. However, under article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, Israel has the full right to defend itself and the security of its citizens from such attacks. Israel will not tolerate a situation where Israeli citizens become hostages of a terrorist organization.
While determined to protect the lives of its citizens, Israel will continue to provide the people of Gaza with their basic humanitarian needs.

Let me stress, in conclusion, that the Hamas terrorist organization bears the sole responsibility for the situation of the inhabitants of Gaza, as it continues to launch rockets from within civilian centres in Gaza. The terrorists even attack the crossings that facilitate the transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip.

An identical letter has been sent to H.E. Mr. Neven Jurica, President of the Security Council.

Allow me, Excellency, to renew to you the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours truly,
Gabriela Shalev
Ambassador
Permanent Representative