Key statements: Israel’s operation is defensive; no intention to reoccupy Gaza
Mark Regev, Prime Minister’s Olmert’s spokesman to BICOM journalists conference call (30/12): “The operation is defensive. It is not designed to do anything but protect southern population of Israel.”
“Israel has no intention whatsoever to reoccupy the Gaza strip. We did not leave in 2005 to go back in.”
“Last week we called for Hamas to ceasefire… it was Hamas that deliberately torpedoed that, Hamas publicly tore up the understanding.”
“If it would have been possible to maintain the old quiet, imperfect as it was – that would have been our preference. Hamas made that impossible.”
President Shimon Peres (30/12): “Israel is not fighting against the Palestinian population – only against the terror organization that has etched on its flag the continuation of violence and the undermining of regional stability. There isn’t a person in the world who understands what the goals of Hamas are and why they continue to fire rockets. The firing defies reason and logic, and it doesn’t stand a chance.”
Tzipi Livni (address to Knesset, 29/12): “Israel has been fighting the terrorist rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip in order to change the security situation in Israel – the situation in which the citizens of the western Negev and the entire State of Israel have been exposed to incessant bombing out of Gaza.”
“Israel’s side, the right side, is the side of all those who want to advance the peace process based on the idea of two states and everyone who understands that we need to fight against our common enemies.”
“We made a strategic decision to advance the peace process with those who have chosen the same side as us and wish to promote the idea of two states. We immediately made it clear that we can only succeed if at the same time we all take a stand against the terror and hate that Hamas represents.”
Ehud Barak (address to Knesset, 29/12). “We want nothing more than peace for a normal existence for work, construction and creation. Without an alternative, and within a permanent effort for peace, we are compelled to live by our sword and to go out from time to time to defend the peace and security of the citizens of Israel.”
Ruth Shalev, Israeli Ambassador to UN, (Jerusalem Post, 30/12): “What we want this time is a commitment and assurances that Hamas will not shoot any rockets and will not fire on Israeli citizens any more…. We have the right to defend ourselves and we have the duty to protect our citizens.”
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe (29/12): “The United States understands that Israel needs to take actions to defend itself… They are taking the steps that they feel are necessary to deal with the terrorist threat.”
Situation on the ground
- Three Israelis were killed on Monday, a construction worker was killed in a rocket strike on the coastal city of Ashkelon, a soldier was killed in the Western Negev, and a woman motorist was killed and another seriously wounded when a Grad-Katyusha hit the port city of Ashdod, more than 30km from Gaza.
- Israel continued its operations through Monday and into Tuesday, using aircraft and naval ships. Targets on Tuesday morning included Hamas government complex in the Tel Al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City. UN figures show that the great majority of the fatalities in Gaza have been Hamas militants. Palestinian health officials put the three-day death toll in Gaza at 364; the UN have said that 62 civilians have been killed.
Daily tally of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since Hamas unilaterally renounced ceasefire.
December 19 & December 20 – 10 Qassams, 24 mortars
December 21 – 19 Qassams, 3 mortars
December 22 – 2 Qassams, 1 mortar
December 23 & 24 – 33 rockets (Grad-Katyushas and Qassams), 37 mortar shells
December 25 -7 Qassam rockets, one Grad missile and 9 mortar rounds.
December 26 – 25 mortar rounds
December 27 – 110 rockets and mortar rounds, including one Grad-Katyusha missile.
December 28 – 40 rockets and mortar rounds, including two long-range Grad missiles.
December 29 – 80 rockets (approximate figure)
For a daily tally of rockets and mortars fired into Israel, see: BICOM Statistics: Total number of identified rocket and mortar shell hits since 2001 and daily tally for 2008.
Humanitarian aid to Gaza
- Israel is currently transferring around a 100 trucks of aid into the Gaza Strip through the Keren Shalom crossing.
- On Monday (29 Dec)63 trucks carrying food and medical supplies as well as 10 ambulances were transferred to Gaza
- Coordinator of Government Operations in the Territories reports that crossings are expected to continue operating in similar frameworks this week, only the number of trucks is likely to vary.
- The transfer of aid through the crossings is being delayed by the high risk of terrorist attacks on the crossings themselves. There is a long history of such attacks, including:
- 22 May 2008: a Palestinian bomber blew up an explosives-laden truck on the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing, causing substantial damage.
- 20 April 2008: Hamas gunmen wounded 13 Israeli soldiers in an assault with mortar shells, explosives-laden vehicles and gunfire against the Kerem Shalom crossing.
- 9 April 2008: Two Israeli civilian fuel truck drivers working at the Nahal Oz fuel depot – which supplies fuel to Gaza – were killed in an attack by Gaza militants.
- For links to the latest BICOM’s Analysis on the purposes of the Gaza operation, click here.
- For a full news review for 30 December click here.
- For a fuller background briefing on issues of humanitarian access and terrorism in Gaza, click here.