The U.S. State Department and European leaders have condemned the rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, almost 700 rockets were fired into Israel beginning Saturday, prompting Israel to retaliate with airstrikes.
“The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Sunday. “We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately.”
U.S. President Donald Trump reaffirmed Israel’s right to self-defense and said, “We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens.” He addressed on social media the people of Gaza, saying, “These terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace – it can happen!”
Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s special representative to the Middle East, had earlier condemned Hamas – which exercises complete political and military control over Gaza – in a tweet.
“Hamas & PIJ have engaged in yet another deplorable act of terrorism, indiscriminately firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilian communities. The U.S. stands firmly in support of Israel’s right to self-defense and we call on the international community to do the same,” Greenblatt said.
Hamas’s dire strategic situation dictates its moves against Israel. The terrorist group wants to distract from the fact that it is directly responsible for the suffering of its own civilian population, wasting hundreds of millions in aid money on military infrastructure.
After months of sending masses of civilians into direct confrontation with Israel – including women, children, even babies – to act as a buffer between its operatives trying to infiltrate the border, Hamas has resorted to previous tactics of firing directly on residents in Israeli border communities.
Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, praised Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties.
“I worked w/Israel on easing restrictions on Gaza. Hamas always used those periods to reload. No comparison: Israel attempts to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas attempts to cause them,” he said on Twitter. “Hamas/PIJ are the ones who ensure repeats; Israel often resists calls for stronger mil action.”
Britain’s Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt, squarely put the blame on Hamas and said on Twitter: “Deeply shocked by events in Israel and Gaza over the last 48 hours & thoughts with the families of innocent civilians killed and affected by Hamas’ indiscriminate and abhorrent rocket attacks.” Hunt stressed that the “UK fully supports [the] vital role UN and Egypt have in securing a ceasefire.”
The latest round of violence began on Friday after a Palestinian sniper wounded two Israeli soldiers and Gaza-based terrorist groups started to fire rockets and mortars toward Israeli communities.
[Photo: DW News / YouTube]