01.06.09

The Situation in Gaza

CONGRESSMAN ADAM B. SCHIFF
OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The State of Israel has a right to defend its territory and its people from attack, whether that attack emanates from another sovereign nation, or, as in this case, from a terrorist organization that seized control of Gaza in a bloody putsch eighteen months ago. 

Hamas clearly chose to escalate its conflict against Israel by unilaterally declaring an end to the ceasefire that was implemented last June and launching a large-scale rocket attack on Israeli population centers.  The Israeli government exercised great forbearance in the weeks prior to the formal breakdown of the ceasefire, which Hamas was already violating repeatedly, and had the international community more strongly condemned these attacks and taken action to stop them, the current Israeli offensive may have been unnecessary.  But, Hamas bears ultimate responsibility for provoking this attack and for putting 1.5 million Palestinians in harm’s way – a fact that Arab leaders from Egypt to Saudi Arabia have noted.

Along with millions of Americans, I grieve the terrible loss of life of innocent Israelis and Palestinians.  Hamas’s decision to fire rockets from populated areas and Israeli strikes on those targets have resulted in many civilian casualties, and our hearts go out to all the innocents who have suffered. 

It is too early to tell if Israel’s military actions will quell the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza and shut down smuggling routes from Egypt.  The conflict in Lebanon proved how difficult this can be and a strong international effort will be necessary to avoid a recurrence of missile strikes in both theaters.  This will require a level of resolution thus far not demonstrated by the international community.

 

Israel’s long-term security can only be guaranteed by a successful peace process that leads to the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side and in peace with Israel.  President-elect Obama has committed himself to reinvigorating the search for peace and it is my hope that a timely conclusion of the present hostilities will allow the new President to begin these efforts from the first days of his administration.