Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken to a host of world leaders since the launch of Operation Protective Edge, all of whom reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Gaza. However, he had not spoken to US President Barack Obama as of early Thursday afternoon, Israel-time.
Since the recent conflagration with Gaza, Netanyahu has held phone conversations with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, officials said Thursday.
Netanyahu also spoke to US Secretary of State John Kerry, but has so far held no conversations with senior White House officials, including Obama or Mideast adviser Philip Gordon, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Gordon, a special adviser to Obama and the White House’s Middle East coordinator, was in Israel and the West Bank earlier this week. According to State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, Gordon met “with key decision makers on both sides.”
These included Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; however, no meeting with Netanyahu was requested. “Gordon met with his opposite numbers from the Israeli national security team,” the official said.
In Netanyahu’s conversations with world leaders, which were often but not always initiated by Jerusalem, the international community condemned Gaza rockets attacks and asserted Israel’s right to defend itself.
Cameron, for instance, “strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians.” He assured Netanyahu of London’s “staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel’s right to defend itself from them,” according to a statement his office released.
Canada’s Harper “reiterated Canada’s steadfast support for Israel and its right to defend itself against these terror attacks,” his official website states. He agreed with Netanyahu that “Hamas must end its targeted attacks on Israeli citizens.”
On Wednesday, Ottawa’s Foreign Minister John Baird tweeted messages of support for Israel adjacent to calls on the Palestinian government to act to end the rocket fire.
— John Baird (@Baird) July 8, 2014
His ambassador in Israel, Vivian Bercovici, has been retweeting his messages and authored supportive tweets herself.
Rockets from Gaza keep on targeting Israeli civilians. #OperationProtectiveEdge
— Vivian Bercovici (@VivianBercovici) July 9, 2014
Israel launches military action in Gaza to address barrage of rockets targeting Israeli civilians for weeks #OperationProtectiveEdge
— Vivian Bercovici (@VivianBercovici) July 8, 2014
Australia’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, Dave Sharma, has been very active on Twitter, posting condemnations of rocket attacks on Israel and photos of his embassy staff in a shelter after missile attacks.
Condemn barrage of rockets from Gaza tonight targeting and terrorising civilians. Call for calm and cessation of violence.
— Chris Cannan
Bracing myself and the kids for another evening of rockets, as are millions all over Israel.
— Chris Cannan
Embassy staff in bomb shelter, after second rocket attack on Tel Aviv for the morning. pic.twitter.com/wEdA5gDhyF
— Chris Cannan
Dan Shapiro, the American ambassador to Israel, has retweeted posts about Iron Dome, the US-funded missile defense system, as well as an excerpt from a speech Gordon gave Tuesday in Tel Aviv.
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman sent a letter to his counterparts in all countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations, saying the government’s objective for launching Operation Protective Edge is to guarantee Israelis “a life without constant threat” and that, while hoping to avoid an escalation, the government will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal.
“Over the past three weeks, the Hamas terror organization has escalated its attack on Israeli civilians, launching nearly 300 rockets at our cities – including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other major metropolitan areas — putting millions of Israeli lives at risk,” Liberman wrote. “Families have been forced into shelters, summer camps for children closed, and all normal daily activities have been impacted. This is unacceptable.”
Jerusalem showed “great restraint” before launching the operation, the foreign minister continued, asserting that the government was eager to restore calm without a major military campaign. “However, Israel’s repeated efforts to achieve calm were met with increased rocket fire by what is becoming a Hamas terrorist state.”
Israel was forced to launch “an operation of self-defense” whose objective is to secure for Israel’s civilian population “a life without constant threat,” he wrote. “Although we are not interested in escalation, we will do whatever is necessary to defend our citizens.”
He described Hamas as an internationally recognized terrorist organizations that aims to establish an “Islamist state characterized by human rights violations, violent repression of minorities, women, and non-Muslims.” The group uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, which is a war crime, and therefore “bears full responsibility for any harm that comes to Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike,” Liberman wrote.
“Israel is operating with utmost care to avoid civilian casualties. We are focusing on targeting Hamas and other terrorist organizations, their operatives and infrastructure. Israel is giving repeated warnings to civilians to vacate areas they are about to target, using pinpoint technologies to hit only the targeted infrastructure.”
The foreign minister demands that the Palestinian Authority dismantle the Hamas-backed unity government and calls on world leaders to condemn the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza to Israel. “Finally, the international community should continue to demonstrate understanding for Israel to exercise its legitimate right to self-defense,” he concludes his letter.
Liberman was scheduled to brief foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel about the situation Thursday afternoon.