To: Conference of Presidents Leadership
From: Richard Stone, Chairman
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman
Attached is important background and contextual information regarding the escalation of rocket fire on cities in Israel’s south:
II. Click here for Report from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
III. The Conference of Presidents called on the international community to denounce the attacks, and to prevent weapons flow and financial support enabling future attacks. (link to release)
IV. Israel’s Consul General in New York, Amb. Ido Aharoni, briefed Conference of Presidents leaders via conference call yesterday, March 11, A summary of the call follows.
Last Friday, the IDF acted on information received about two Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees preparing to carry out an attack on Israel. A targeted air strike in Gaza on Friday eliminated Zuhair al-Qaissi, the commander the Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees, who had a long-history of planning violent attacks against Israelis, and who was behind the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. His son-in-law and fellow commander in the terror group, Mahmoud Hanini, was also hit in the strike along with a low-level accomplice. The strike escalated into a barrage of Palestinian rocket fire into Israeli civilian areas along with counter-strikes by the Israeli Air Force.
As of Sunday afternoon Israel time:
• 140 rockets were fired into Israel.
• Iron Dome has a 90% success rate, but 1 million people still living under range of rockets.
• Four Israelis injured, one gravely.
• Two Grad missiles, which have a 120 km range, have landed in Be’er Sheva. One of them hit an elementary school.
• IAF carried out 22 air strikes in last 24 hours, fourteen of which were against field operatives who were in preparation to launch more rockets. Eight were against armament depots.
Since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, Hamas has continually used the area as a terrorist base to launch thousands of rockets. Israel is not interested in an escalation and has displayed restraint, but Israel must defend its citizens.
The Popular Resistance Committees and Islamic Jihad have taken responsibility for the rocket attacks. Hamas has been using these terror groups as proxies to attack Israel. We hold Hamas ultimately responsible as rulers of Gaza.
Egypt and Iran Not Directly Involved; No “Third Intifada”
Media reports indicate that Hamas turned to Egypt to mediate a ceasefire, but these reports are unconfirmed as yet. Israel’s assessment is that Hamas is not interested in escalation. However, there is concern about Hamas building a military foundation like Hizbollah did in Lebanon.
Israel is not holding Egypt responsible for the escalation.
This latest round of attacks does not seem to be orchestrated by Iran, although Iran continues to fund and support the terror organizations involved, including the Popular Resistance Committees and Islamic Jihad.
There is no indication that the rocket fire is part of a “Third Intifada.” Palestinian leaders may use such talk as a threat, although not necessarily carry it out, as the current PA leadership, in part due to economic situation in the West Bank, has much to lose from a renewed round of violence. Moreover, today Israelis are much better protected by the security fence, which did not exist during the Second Intifada. It is 95% operational, and there is 0% infiltration where the fence exists.
The Prime Minister issued a statement about Israel’s right to self-defense and the Defense Minister has issued security updates.
The success of the Iron Dome system is encouraging but is financially costly. While cost is not a factor in protecting the lives of the Israeli people, it costs NIS 80,000 ($21,000) every time the Iron Dome system is deployed.
All citizens were instructed to spend Sunday in the sheltered areas of their homes. One rocket hit a school, but it was empty due to the safety precautions. Until calm is achieved, Israel will not send students back to school. The next 24-48 hours will be critical.
US Condemns Rocket Fire
The US issued a statement the rocket fire into Israel.
It is imperative to expose media bias and double standards related to reporting from Israel. Last week, on a day that 300 people were butchered by the government of Syria, The New York Times ran a front page photo of Israeli soldiers firing rubber bullets. Various reports on the events in Gaza cited the number of “Palestinians” killed without noting that they were terrorists often in the midst of a planned attack. Even Hamas and other official statements acknowledged this. We must continue to bring this double standard to light and to insist that the media expose the atrocities in Syria and Iran with the same focus they report on events in Gaza.