to the Security Council:
The Situation in Gaza and Sderot
NATIONS, New York (IFM) — 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, Chargé d’Affaires,
Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations
in the Middle East including the Palestinian question"
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 with Israel.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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 legality.
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.
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 national aspirations".
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.
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
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 community.
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
these words. And let us hope that the right choices are made.
of Reply to the Security Council’s
Remarks and the Syrian Member
for allowing my delegation the opportunity to address the Council
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.
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.
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 these norms.