Israel has exercised restraint for many months in spite of the constant firing of rockets and mortar shells on our towns and villages in southern Israel, every single hour, every single day. Hamas has showed no intention of ceasing its vicious attacks.

Statement by Israel Ambassador Daniel Carmon, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
to emergency meeting of the Security Council
United Nations, New York
1 March 2008
 
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,

Two days ago, and as a matter of fact a few minutes ago in his briefing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Hamas’ rocket fire against Israel, and called on Hamas and other terrorist and militant groups to cease all acts of violence and terrorism. He also called on Israel to exercise maximum restraint.

Mr. President, Israel has exercised that restraint for many months now. This has been in spite of the constant firing of rockets and mortar shells on our towns and villages in southern Israel, every single hour, every single day. And this is in spite of Hamas’ attempt to carry out terrorist attacks wherever they can target and kill an Israeli.

While Israel has been showing restraint, Hamas has showed no intention of ceasing its vicious attacks. On the contrary. In the past week, since Hamas failed to organize a provocative demonstration in Gaza – a failure that might be seen as a weakness – it has dramatically escalated its rocket attacks and upgraded its capabilities against our people. Grad missiles. Qatyusha rockets. Mortar shells. And Qassams. Since Wednesday, more than 150 rockets were fired at Israel, dozens in the past 24 hours alone.

As I speak to you now, more than a quarter of a million Israeli citizens are in the range of the deadly and murderous weapons of Hamas, care of Hamas, of its backers in the region and their malicious vision. 

The Government of Israel should thus not apologize for protecting its citizens.

Mr. President,

We have addressed this situation for a very long time. The Members of the Council can see the many letters we have sent, this week alone, expressing our alarm and concern with Hamas’ attacks and reiterating our determination to protect our people. This is our right. This is the right of all States to act in self defense, in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This is our duty. This is our obligation to our people.

I ask the Members of the Security Council, wouldn’t it be yours too?

No responsible Member State would sit back in silence and do nothing as its citizens and territory are under constant attack. They would not be idle as the alarms in Sderot – and now Ashkelon – blare "Colour Red, Colour Red", giving Israeli civilians less than 15 seconds – 15 seconds of terror – that’s all it takes, before the rocket slams into their lives, their homes, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, and playgrounds. And their lives are destroyed forever. 

There is only one way to describe the activity of Hamas against Israel – it is plain and blunt terrorism. Hamas is a terrorist group backed by Member States of this world body, an organization that denies the very basic principles set by the international community: the cessation of hostilities, cessation of terrorist acts, recognition of Israel, and abiding by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas, Mr. President, not only seeks to kill Israelis; it has no concern for its own civilians. It fires rockets from populated civilian areas, using their civilians as human shields. This is a war crime – there is no other way to describe it – against both Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. President,

We heard the term “war crimes” here today in this hall. May I suggest to the Palestinian observer to divert this term – or accusation – to the Hamas terrorist group, who brutally took over the Gaza Strip a few months ago in what the Palestinian Authority leadership itself calls a “coup”. 

If they answer your phone, distinguished colleague, you can tell them something about “war crimes”, as well as much of what you told the Council this evening. The address is there: Hamas.

The Palestinians in Gaza are victims of Hamas’ regime of terror. It is not only Israelis. We are all being held hostage by Hamas, the real and only occupier in Gaza through its terror. 

The situation is unacceptable – we do not accept it. We will continue with our fight against terrorism.

Mr. President,

There should be no doubt in our minds that Hamas’ true vision is the extermination of the State of Israel, and not to live peacefully side by side with us. It does not even seek to restore normalcy for the sake of the people of Gaza.

It is thus unfortunate that the Palestinian observer tonight, as has been the case in the past, does not recognize that Hamas’ bears sole responsibility for the violence. Once again, Hamas’ name, the word Hamas, was not mentioned even once in his address, and I think it says it all.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General,

Hamas’ vision for the failure of the moderates is a vision shared by some States in the region, including Iran and Syria, who is sitting behind the scenes, orchestrating and supporting Hamas’ terrorism against Israel. They have done this in the past with other terrorist groups elsewhere in the region and around the world. 

One must wonder about the timing of Hamas’ escalation of violence, and whether its purpose is to distract the international community’s attention today and this week.

Mr. President,

I reiterate Israel’s determination to protect its civilians and territory – cities, towns, and villages. It is what they expect from us, and it is what we must do for them.

Sitting on the sidelines will only embolden the extremists and convince them that they should not stop their violence, trying to derail the peace process is what the extremists want to do. Israel expects the international community – and the Members of the Security Council – to support us in our protection of our people.

Thank you.