Thursday, June 29, 2006

Behind the Headlines: Rescuing Gilad Shalit from his Hamas kidnappers

Jerusalem, 29 June 2006

Behind the Headlines: Rescuing Gilad Shalit from his Hamas kidnappers
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

On Sunday, June 25, 2006, Palestinian Hamas terrorists crossed in a
tunnel from the Gaza Strip into Israel and attacked an IDF base at the
Kerem Shalom crossing. Two soldiers were murdered, four were wounded
(one seriously), and one soldier was abducted alive back to Gaza. Two
terrorists were also killed in the attack. Hamas took responsibility
for the raid, with its spokesman, Sami Abu Zahari, praising its
perpetrators as "heroes of the Palestinian people."

Israel considers the Palestinian Authority and its Hamas government to
be fully responsible for the Kerem Shalom attack and for the fate of
the kidnapped soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
has all the necessary resources to ensure Shalit's release and Israel
calls on him to act immediately to resolve this crisis and avoid an
unnecessary escalation of the conflict.

Similarly, Israel calls on the international community to use its
influence vis-׳-vis Chairman Abbas to obtain the release of Cpl.
Shalit and to make clear to the PA the grave consequences of its
failure to release him safe and sound.

In the absence of PA compliance with its humanitarian request, Israel
reserves the right to take all necessary measures to implement the
safe return of its kidnapped soldier.

Israel's dead, wounded, and kidnapped soldiers were not the only
victims of Sunday's Hamas raid, for this terrorist raid is the latest
in a series of attacks by Palestinian terrorist organizations on the
main lifelines of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian
terrorist organizations, in their fanatic opposition to a peaceful
resolution of the conflict, regularly attack the crossings used to
transfer goods and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population in
the Gaza Strip. Once again, Hamas has proven that it does not hesitate
to inflict harm on its own Palestinian population in pursuit of
Islamist jihad.

Sunday's attack also comes against the background of daily barrages of
Kassam artillery rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists at Israeli
towns adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Since Israel's complete
disengagement from Gaza almost a year ago, over 500 such rockets have
hit Israeli territory, killing and wounding scores of Israeli

In targeting Israel's civilian population, the Palestinian terrorist
organizations deliberately and callously place their own civilians at
risk by launching these rockets from their own population centers.
They further display their contempt for their own countrymen by
attacking the very crossings which enable the entire Palestinian
population of Gaza to receive its essential supplies of food,
medications, and other daily needs.

Despite Israel's every effort to maintain the passage of goods and
humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population of Gaza, acts of
terrorism oblige the security authorities to interrupt the flow of
goods in order to safeguard those employed at the crossings and the
forces protecting them.

As any sovereign state, Israel will take whatever steps necessary to
protect its citizens and territory from Palestinian terrorism, the
responsibility for whose consequences lies solely with the Palestinian

With this in mind, IDF units on June 28 began a combined, limited
operation in the Gaza Strip for the purpose of rescuing the kidnapped
soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit and bringing him safely home, while dealing
a blow to the Hamas terrorist infrastructure to prevent the
continuation of its attacks from Gaza on civilians inside Israel.

The IDF operation follows exhaustive, but unsuccessful, diplomatic
efforts to secure Shalit's release by giving PA Chairman Abbas the
opportunity to return him to his family. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
held dozens of talks with her counterparts around the world, making it
clear that, while Israel has indeed given priority to diplomatic
efforts, it will not accept Hamas holding an Israeli citizen hostage
and will do everything necessary to secure his release.

Concern for the fate of Gilad Shalit is growing among the entire
population of Israel, for whom his release is a humanitarian matter of
the highest order. While Israel certainly did not leave the Gaza Strip
in order to return to it, the Government of Israel cannot accept its
citizens being attacked by terrorists inside its territory day and
night without exercising its sovereign right of self-defense.

Given that the Palestinian Authority is controlled by the Hamas
terrorist organization, which took responsibility for the attack in
which Cpl. Shalit was kidnapped, and after it became abundantly clear
that the chairman of the Palestinian Authority is incapable of
ensuring his return or preventing Kassam rocket fire, Israel had no
choice but to act on its own. This rescue operation can be terminated
immediately upon the release of Gilad Shalit.

It goes without saying that, in keeping with Israel's policy of
targeting only terrorist perpetrators, every effort will be made
during this rescue operation to avoid harming innocent civilians.
Israel expresses its hope that the international community will
continue to pressure the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas terrorist
organization, and its sponsors in order to bring about the release of
Gilad Shalit and thereby avoid a further escalation of the situation.


June 29th 2006


Aerial attacks on open areas in the northern and southern Gaza Strip

The IDF carried out aerial attacks on several open areas in the northern and
southern Gaza Strip yesterday.

The Palestinian Authority, led by the democratically elected Hamas
government is fully responsible for any attacks emanating from the Gaza
Strip and Israel holds it responsible for the safe and quick return of Cpl.

The IDF will continue to employ all means at its disposal to combat
terrorists and their infrastructure, in order to defend the citizens of
Israel and will continue to make every effort to return Cpl. Shalit home
quickly and safely.


Posted with Permisson by Dr. Mike Cohen, The Galilee Institute