Federation President Mark H. Scoblionko and Executive Director Mark L. Goldstein today issued the following statement:
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is extremely concerned about Hamas’ escalating rocket attacks against Israeli citizens. We support Israel’s right to defend itself as a sovereign country from relentless rocket fire targeted at innocent civilians and support Israeli efforts to prevent further escalation and minimize casualties on both sides.
On July 7, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to intensify defensive efforts against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to restore stability to the country. Since Monday morning, over 160 rockets have been fired at Israel activating "Code Red" sirens (rocket alerting system) deep into central Israel. At this moment, over 3.5 million Israelis are in the line of fire from these rockets.
The senseless murders of Israeli and Palestinian teens – all of which we condemn and mourn – should have been a clarion call to Hamas that war and bloodshed should cease. At a moment when world, including Israeli and Palestinian Authority, leaders were calling for calming times, Hamas chose to escalate the situation by firing 18 rockets during the funeral of the Israeli teens. Since Monday morning over 165 rockets have been fired at Israeli citizens, and yesterday five armed Palestinians were intercepted illegally entering Israel along the shore south of Ashkelon.
In spite of these actions, the Israel Defense Forces is doing everything possible to minimize civilian injuries by sacrificing the element of surprise and calling Gaza homes being used forcibly as centers for terrorist activities that are going to be bombed; utilizing pin point precision rockets; and engaging in the “knock on the roof” tactic – where Israel deploys a “scare” bomb which only makes noise in order to make civilians leave a targeted area.
We applaud the U.S. Administration’s strong condemnation of the rocket fire toward Israel, noting that “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and (the United States) supports Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks."
Our community remains committed to peace and a two-state solution, in which both the Israeli and Palestinian people live securely within mutually recognized and sovereign borders. But for that to happen, we first hope and pray for quick restoration of calm, for cool heads to prevail in the face of incitement and hatred, and for an end to bloodshed.