Gaza rocket fire on Israel a ‘clear violation’
Police and rescue personnel at the scene of a building in Rishon le Tzion which was directly hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza strip, central Israel, leaving one Israeli dead. More than 130 rockets were fired from Gaza into central Israel on May 11, 2021. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

International law breached, assert US Jewish groups

Staff and Wire Report

(JNS) American and local Jewish leaders reacted to the escalating situation in Israel on Monday and Tuesday with all condemning the rocket fire on Israel by Gaza terror groups.

The clergy members of Congregation Shearith Israel wrote an email to its members Monday evening.

“In Jerusalem, and in Jewish communities everywhere, today was to be a day of celebration marking the reunification of our holy city and celebrating her historic place as the spiritual center of our faith. Instead, our brothers and sisters in Israel — in Jerusalem, in S’derot, in Ashkelon and throughout the South —have endured the threat of falling rockets and red alert sirens. Families and students hurried to shelters, the K’nesset was evacuated mid-session, and reports of injuries to the innocent civilians targeted by these hateful attacks have begun to stream in,” said the message signed by Rabbi Ari Sunshine, Rabbi Adam Roffman, Rabbi Shira Wallach, Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker and Ritual Director Avi Mitzner.

Other clergy also began to speak out as the violence escalated Tuesday.

Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth posted on Facebook, “We have to distinguish between those engaging in terrorism and those engaging in self-defense. Today, the Israeli army is defending the people of Israel from what is unquestionably a war of terrorism against her citizens. Any democracy attacked by terrorism has a moral right to defend itself, and Israel is exercising that right.”

In a message to his Beth-El Congregation members, Rabbi Brian Zimmerman of Fort Worth wrote Tuesday afternoon: “On this day, when we see the terrible escalation of violence in Israel and in the Palestinian territories, our prayers are for a quick and safe resolution. While Israel has made its share of questionable decisions in the past, this current escalation taking place during Yom Yerushalayim, the annual celebration of a united Jerusalem and the closing days of Ramadan, is a direct confrontation with Israel and a direct challenge to the idea of any Israeli sovereignty.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas leadership sent out several updates throughout the day Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening before mincha services, the Sephardic Torah Center held a communal gathering to recite Tehillim (Psalms) and Tefilot (prayers) for Israel in-person and via Zoom.

National leaders were quick to react Monday to the escalation of rocket attacks.

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris urged international support for Israel amid the rocket fire.

“The world needs to clearly and unambiguously recognize the nature and aims of Palestinian terrorist organizations, and specifically, their desire to wipe Israel off the map,” he said. “Hamas and its well-armed, Iranian-supported allies in Gaza are fundamentally opposed to Israel’s very existence and have employed rockets, missiles, incendiary balloons and other weapons to attack it.”

Harris said Hamas is falsely claiming that Israel was trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, and he added that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas further exacerbated the tense situation by inciting Palestinians to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque just days after canceling planned Palestinian elections.

“Let’s be clear. Since 1967, Israel has protected freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem — a right denied to Jews during Israel’s first 19 years when Jordan was in control of the territory,” said Harris. “As in the past, Israel must take appropriate action to respond to the violence triggered by Hamas and supported by the P.A. If any other sovereign nation were being attacked as Israel is today, would its response be any different than Israel’s?”

He added that Hamas is using a legal dispute over a few homes in Jerusalem to spark a “wider conflict,” and that all Israelis, regardless of background, are being “forced yet again to seek shelter from the deadly threats of Palestinian violence.”

A long exposure picture shows iron dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel, as it seen from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, May 10, 2021. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also condemned the rocket barrage, blaming the “willful incitement by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that is instigating violence and unrest in Jerusalem.”

Dianne Lob, William Daroff and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference continued: “We stand in solidarity with Israel as she continues to face lawlessness and rioting spurred by Palestinian leaders who are shameless fanning the flames of hate and violence with apparent disregard for the safety and security of Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

The umbrella group added that the rockets constitute a “clear violation of international law and must be condemned by the international community at once.”

In a statement, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) lamented that as Israelis celebrated Jerusalem Day, “Palestinian terrorists continue to fire a barrage of rockets targeting innocent men, women and children within Jerusalem and communities surrounding Gaza. We condemn these assaults, and unequivocally stand with the Jewish people and our nation’s greatest ally as she continues to fight for her right to exist in peace and security.”

The American Jewish Congress said that it, too, stands in solidarity with Israel as “rockets from terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to indiscriminately target Israeli cities.”

Importantly, it noted that “Israel has a right to protect itself and its citizens.”

‘Pushes Israelis and Palestinians further towards war’

Americans for Peace Now said it “strongly condemns” the rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, saying it “pushes Israelis and Palestinians further towards war.”

However, the left-wing group also noted that Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s actions don’t “excuse Israeli authorities of their responsibility in escalating the crisis, nor from the need to de-escalate.”

The organization went on to berate the Israeli government for “encouraging” settlers’ efforts to displace Palestinians in East Jerusalem, and said it “has failed to contain extremist right-wing actions in Jerusalem.”

“More than anything, current developments yet again demonstrate how destructive, unjust and unviable Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is,” said its president and CEO, Hadar Susskind. “Israel, the Palestinians and all stakeholders must follow up de-escalation measures with a concerted, intense effort to end the occupation and advance diplomacy aimed at a peace agreement.”

Similarly, J Street “unequivocally condemns indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and supports Israel’s need to defend its citizens.”

Nevertheless, the group pointed to settler groups’ efforts to evict Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem as contributing to the situation.

Said the left-wing group: “Without sufficient efforts to de-escalate, the situation in Jerusalem is igniting further violence, not just in the city but beyond.”

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