Israeli envoy says Hamas launched war for political gains

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan tells the UN Security Council that the latest round of violence was “completely premeditated by Hamas in order to gain political power.”

The envoy says it’s vying to wrestle power in the West Bank away from the Palestinian Authority, which recently postponed the first parliamentary elections in 15 years.

Hamas “looked for another way to seize power. It escalated tensions in Jerusalem as a pretext to launch this war.”

Erdan labels the looming eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, one factor which ostensibly kicked off the fighting, as a “property dispute.”

The families are set to be evicted under a 1970 law that, for all intents and purposes, only allows Jews to reclaim property they lost in East Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence. No such law exists for Palestinians.

He says that the Israeli government cannot intervene in court proceedings on the matter, though he acknowledges that the government acted to delay the latest hearing on the evictions in order to prevent a further escalation of violence.

“Do you really believe that this property dispute is what caused Hamas to launch this large-scale spate of attacks on Israel?” Erdan asks.

He says that Hamas also instigated violence at the Temple Mount and used the al-Aqsa mosque as a “stockpile” for weapons. He then shows a picture of the holy site where rocks are stacked up to be thrown at Israeli police.

While hundreds of Palestinians were injured when police burst onto the compound last week, Erdan notes that none were killed.

He also says that hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers were free to pray at the site during Ramadan and continue to visit the compound today.

“Do you really believe these peaceful prayers are what caused Hamas to launch this large-scale attack on the people of Israel?” Erdan asks.

“Israel will continue to uphold the rights of all believers to practice their religion in freedom and security, in the holy city of Jerusalem,” he says.

He opens his speech at the Security Council’s emergency meeting on the latest round of violence in Gaza by holding up a photo of 16-year-old Nadin Awad, who was killed last week by a Hamas rocket.

“She was studying biology and chemistry and she dreamed of changing the world,” Erdan says.

“Over the last week, millions of Israeli children, women and men, have been huddling in bomb shelters, while thousands of Hamas rockets landed all around them,” he says.

Erdan warns that if the UN continues to call on both sides to exercise restraint and not unequivocally condemn Hamas, it will further embolden the terror group and “undermine the Palestinian Authority.”

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