Urgent Question Briefing

  • Israel is under attack.
  • Over 3500 rockets have been launched against the country in nine days by the Hamas terror organisation, which holds Islamist jihadi ideology.
  • Its charter calls for the killing of all Jews, and the destruction of the State of Israel in order to replace it with an Islamic State.
  • Millions of Israelis have had to spend the last nine nights in bomb shelters.
  • Yesterday, Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoom said: ““Anyone who has a knife, a weapon, or a car, and is not attacking a settler or a Jew, and is not killing tens of Zionists, does not belong in #Palestine”.
  • Israel did not want this conflict.
  • Israel took all possible steps to de-escalate the conflict; it enabled 85,000 worshippers to pray on temple mount on Laylat al-akader (in spite of growing tensions following weeks of incitement and attacks against Jews in Jerusalem); it postponed a court hearing on East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah real-estate dispute; it forbade Jewish worshippers from praying on Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day and it diverted the traditional Jerusalem Day flags parade from the old city.
  • Hamas is responsible for the escalation of this conflict, deliberately provoking a confrontation by launching rockets on Jerusalem and the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), the country’s highest symbol of sovereignty.
  • Israel has the right to defend itself, and its government has the obligation to protect its civilians.
  • The UK government would react in exactly the same way if thousands of rockets were raining down on Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh or London.
  • Israel only targets Hamas assets, on a very difficult and crowded landscape.
  • Hamas assets are – launching pads, rockets and ammunition storage dumps, rocket manufacturing facilities, command and control rooms, technology centres, militant hideouts and the metro tunnel system.
  • It’s a very difficult task for the IDF since Hamas deliberately and with malice aforethought launches its rockets from civilian population centres, residential buildings, schools and hospitals.
  • In making these decisions Hamas is committing a double war crime.
  • The first, by using the people of Gaza as human shields, and the second deliberately and indiscriminately targeting the civilian Israeli population.
  • Israel is doing its utmost to avoid hurting innocent civilians.
  • The Palestinian civilian population in Gaza is not Israel’s enemy, and Israelis regret the loss of any innocent life, especially children.
  • The IDF takes extraordinary measures to warn the civilian population.
  • Gazans are called by phone, sent text messages and leaflets are dropped on intended target areas.
  • The IDF has also confirmed that it is has cancelled attacks out of concern for the civilian population.
  • These same measures were taken when the IDF targeted the building that some international media outlet offices occupied, alongside Hamas’ technological HQ.
  • Israel gave an hour-long warning for the journalists to leave the building and take their equipment with them.
  • The price that Israel paid for that warning is that Hamas managed to dismantle some of its systems.
  • Israel has forwarded that intelligence to the United State of America.
  • It is estimated that 30% of Hamas’ rockets are falling short of their intended targets and have landed in the Gaza strip, killing and injuring the civilian population and damaging infrastructure. For example, a Hamas rocket hit an electricity manufacturing power station, and a sewage treatment plant, financed incidentally by the European Union.
  • Israel enables and coordinates the transfer of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. However, during the transfer of a Jordanian shipment yesterday, Hamas launched mortar shells at the crossing, killing two civilians and injuring a soldier.
  • The House of Commons also needs to understand the internal Palestinian political context that forms the backdrop to this escalation of violence.
  • Hamas is trying to make the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas redundant, to make him appear irrelevant and to present themselves as the ultimate defenders of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa.
  • The UK and the international community must decide if they want Hamas to become the representatives of the Palestinian people, a terror organisation that fights its battles with women and children in front of them.
  • In addition, those who see Hamas’ actions as legitimate actions for the “protection” of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people, are adopting Hamas’ narrative and that in turn is an endorsement of their terror activities.
  • For those calling for recognition of a Palestinian State, be mindful you are proposing to give Hamas a reward for its violence and terror.
  • And finally, for those calling for an arms embargo on Israel, it’s rather ironic that we allow taxpayers’ money to be funnelled to Hamas, which allows them to purchase rockets and ammunition that are used against civilians.
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