Israeli Statements to the Security Council: The situation in Gaza and Sderot
There can be no moral equivalence made between the choices of Israel and the
choices of Hamas.
22 Jan 2008
The Security Council convened an emergency meeting, in the form of an open
debate, to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip.
Statement by Counsellor Gilad Cohen
Charge d'Affaires, a.i.
Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations
"Situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question"
United Nations, New York
22 January 2008
The situation in the region today did not develop overnight. It is the
consequence of many choices, repeatedly the wrong choices, made by the
Palestinians, to adopt terrorism and violence over peace and negotiations
In contrast, Israel has shown that it understands the consequences of making
the right choices. More than two years ago, Israel made the choice to
withdraw from the Gaza Strip, uproot families, and remove all its forces, in
order to create a new horizon for peace in the region. We chose to
disengage, despite all the difficulties, and despite the fact that the
Roadmap did not require it at this stage.
And ever since then, Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip - first politically and
now physically - using the area as its personal base for launching rocket
attacks against Israel. The Palestinians in Gaza did not choose to engage
Israel in dialogue and reconciliation to advance the two-state vision.
Rather, they chose Hamas who uses terrorism and violence to advance its
vision to destroy Israel.
Since the year 2000, more than 7,000 rockets and mortars have been fired at
Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Last year alone, that number was
over 2,000. And since Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007, the
frequency of rocket attacks rose 150 percent, to more than 250 rockets and
mortars a month. This means, on average, one rocket is fired at Israel every
Most of these rockets fall on the southern city of Sderot. Normal life in
Sderot is a thing of the past. Not a day goes by when the Red Alert warning
system does not sound, which gives children on playgrounds and in schools,
and parents at home and at work, less than 15 seconds to find the nearest
shelter before the next rocket comes slamming into their lives.
Liora Fima, a Sderot mother and head of a local elementary school, knows
firsthand the traumatic impact of these rockets on the youth of Sderot -
where up to 94 percent of children suffer from Post-traumatic Stress
Disorder, including sleep and concentration problems, and even bed wetting.
Listen to her words: "for the children in Sderot, red is not the colour of
roses, but of blood and flames".
Why is the Council not concerned with the safety and security of Israel's
children, women, and elderly who live in the southern city of Sderot? Why is
the Council silent as they live in fear and panic each and every day?
With Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and its rocket launchers pointed at
Sderot, Israel faces an impossible situation. Israel must and will protect
its civilian population from these rocket attacks. It is the duty of all
States to ensure the right to life and safety of its people, especially from
vicious acts of violence and terrorism that are carried out with the sole
purpose of maiming, terrorizing, and murdering the innocent.
I ask each Member of the Council: what would you do if London, Moscow,
Paris, or Tripoli was attacked and fired on? Would you sit back and do
nothing? I am certain that no Member State on this Council - and certainly
no country in the world - would be silent. And Israel is no different. It
will act in accordance with its inherent right under article 51 of the
United Nations Charter to protect and defend its people. This is the very
obligation and right of all States.
Hence, it is deeply disturbing, Mr. President, that some falsely equate
Palestinian terrorism with Israel's actions taken in self-defense. A clear
distinction must be made between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli defense -
not only in practice and tactic, but also in terms of their morality and
Palestinian terrorists choose to directly target Israeli civilians, and even
use their own civilians as human shields. Hamas' brutality towards its own
people can also be seen in the daily violence on the streets of Gaza, where
attacks on civilians have become routine. Terrorists produce, transport, and
launch rockets and mortars from inside densely populated Palestinian
residential areas. And by firing on border-crossings, the terrorists
cynically force closures, which hamper efforts to deliver humanitarian aid
and relief. Recently, we even saw humanitarian convoys used by terrorists to
smuggle explosives and weapon materials into Gaza, yet another cynical act
to harm their own people.
In this regard, Israel chooses to ensure the humanitarian welfare of the
Palestinians in Gaza, even as Hamas chooses to abuse those efforts. Hamas
chooses to divert fuel from domestic generators for its own terrorist
purpose, including the production of Kassam rockets. Similarly, Israel
chooses to allow electricity and fuel, as well as medicines, into Gaza, and
works closely with the humanitarian organizations and relevant agencies on
the ground to ensure that the needs are met.
Since June 2007, my government has allowed more than 9,000 Palestinians to
enter Israel to seek medical treatment. Contrast this with the more than
1700 rockets and mortars Hamas has fired out of the Gaza Strip at Israel
during the same amount of time.
As the rockets hit Sderot and other towns in southern Israel, we must not
forget that Gilad Shalit is still held captive by the terrorists in the Gaza
Strip. More than twenty months have passed since his abduction, while his
whereabouts and condition remain unknown. President Abbas himself said on
Friday that Hamas "destroyed and tries to destroy our dreams, future and
Hamas controls the fate of Gaza. If terrorism ceases, life in Gaza will
change. The Palestinians must understand that they will not profit from
terrorism. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian national vision. Hamas
is the antithesis of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
It does not recognize Israel's right to exist. There is no hope in choosing
terrorism, and there is surely no hope in the Hamas leadership.
There can be no moral equivalence made between the choices of Israel and the
choices of Hamas. Israel is not only mindful of the humanitarian conditions
in the Gaza Strip. It is a neighbor, interested in the well-being of the
population living next door with whom it wants to work with to advance the
vision of two-states.
The international community must make it clear that Hamas' actions are
unacceptable, and that continuing to choose Hamas will only lead to
continued suffering - for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is up to the
international community to tell those states that initiated this debate, and
those states that think singling out Israel and condemning it will bring
about change, that Israeli security cannot be sacrificed. Guaranteeing the
welfare of all Israelis and Palestinians begins, first and foremost, with an
end to terrorism and violence.
It is the international community's choice to make clear that the path of
rejection, of violence and of terrorism, will not be tolerated by this
Council. Those who seek to subvert the bilateral process and use violence to
achieve their aims will not secure the support of the international
Peace begins with the people and their choices.
Dr. Adrianna Katz, an Israeli doctor living in Sderot, was recently asked
what would make her life easier. Her answer is an important reminder for all
of us of what needs to be done. She said (quote) "We need all the help we
can get. But the best thing that can happen would be a lasting peace" (end
Remember these words. And let us hope that the right choices are made.
Thank you, Mr. President.
* * *
Right of Reply
Thank you for allowing my delegation the opportunity to address the Council
The Hamas terrorist organization that operates in the Gaza Strip and is
responsible for the current situation facing the Palestinian people did not
materialize out of thin air. Hamas - and other terrorist organizations for
that matter - is supported, financed, and backed by states in the region,
such as Syria, in violation of their obligations under international law,
and in particular Security Council resolution 1373.
It is hence the height of hypocrisy, cynicism, and indecency for the
distinguished representative of Syria to address the Council and condemn
Israel for merely defending itself against the very Hamas terrorists that it
supports. Damascus is home and headquarters to numerous terrorist
organizations, including Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the latter whose political
leader - Khaled Mashal - lives there while continuing to orchestrate the
killing of Israelis. Israel urges all states to end their support for
terrorists and terrorism, in accordance with international law.
It is deeply regrettable that during its statement this morning, one Member
State of this Council utilized the term "genocide" to refer to the situation
in the Gaza Strip. It is highly insensitive to the survivors of genocide
around the world and to the sensibilities of this Council for language to be
used so cheaply. My delegation urges Member States to be more responsible
with the language used in their statements.
Lastly, Mr. President, it is astonishing - though perhaps not surprising -
that some delegations who addressed the Council today were able to refer to
the situation in the Gaza Strip through a one-sided prism, without any
understanding of the true causes of the situation. The absent reference to
Hamas is validation of the fact that the deliberations in this room are
often all too detached from the reality on the ground.
I reiterate Israel's commitment to facilitate the necessary humanitarian aid
to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. The current
situation that Israel faces is the same challenge that every democracy
confronts when dealing with terrorism: to uphold the standards of
international law, even while the terrorists it fights willfully violate
Thank you, Mr. President.