AUSTRALIAN Jewish leaders have condemned the latest barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel as a “war crime”.
Israel was hit by more than 200 rockets on Tuesday after the IDF killed senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza in a dawn strike.
In a statement, the IDF said Abu al-Ata was “responsible for most attacks emanating from Gaza over the last year” and was a “ticking time-bomb”.
“His next attack was imminent,” the IDF said.
BREAKING: We just targeted Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, Baha Abu Al Ata.
Al Ata was directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 12, 2019
Egyptian and UN officials on Tuesday night were pushing for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza terrorist groups, as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad vowed to step up attacks against the Jewish State in retaliation for the targeted killing.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “Any attack that deliberately targets civilians is a war crime.
“Palestinian groups in Gaza have unleashed this barrage against Israeli civilians in a flagrant violation of the laws of armed conflict and must be held to account.”
Leibler further warned against comparing the Israeli strike against Abu al-Ata and the Palestinian response.
“The Israeli strike was a pinpoint attack designed to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties now, and to prevent future Israeli casualties at Mr Abu al-Ata’s hands,” he said.
“The Palestinian response is designed to maximise Israeli civilian deaths, and to bring about an Israeli response in a perverse attempt to engender Palestinian deaths.”
Leibler added, “While Israel cannot abide by its civilians being targeted, it does not want to go to war.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said these rocket attacks were occurring before yesterday’s killing of Abu al-Ata, “and they have continued since”.
“The claim being made by some groups and media outlets that the firing of rockets at Israeli cities has only commenced in response to the killing is a blatant falsehood,” Wertheim said.
“It was Abu al-Ata who ordered the rocket attack towards a music festival in Sderot on August 25, and a further rocket attack against that city as recently as November 1,” he noted.
Expressing “solidarity with the people of Israel in this difficult time”, Wertheim called on Australian politicians to condemn without equivocation or delay these “gross violations by the Palestinians of the laws and norms of armed conflict and international humanitarian law”.
“We also call upon all sections of the media to report accurately on the targeting of civilians in Israel by Palestinian terrorist organisations in rocket attacks, as and when they occur, and not merely on Israel’s response to them.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said once again, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have “resorted to the blatant war crime of firing rockets and mortars in large numbers at civilian areas, again demonstrating a callous contempt for human life – not only Israeli, but also among the Palestinians of Gaza they purport to lead”.
Noting Iran’s “central role behind the scenes in igniting this escalation”, Rubenstein said, “Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran – armed, trained, financed and commanded by Tehran.
“It is known that Iran has recently been pushing PIJ to dramatically escalate violence from Gaza against Israel, with Abu al-Ata one of its key agents for doing so.”
He added, “The current violence should be seen as part of a larger Iranian program of aggression and encirclement against Israel – stretching across Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as Gaza.”