Australian Jewish leaders condemn Hamas attacks

An Israeli house hit by a Hamas rocket this week. Photo: Israel Police

JEWISH community leaders in Australia have condemned a barrage of Hamas rocket attacks against civilians in central Israel this week. 

As of press time, the attacks had injured seven people including two babies with burns and shrapnel wounds. 

In the wake of the assault, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to the US and flew home as the country got on a war footing. Israel struck dozens of targets in Gaza, reservists were called up and tanks were assembled on the Gaza border.

Condemning Hamas, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said, “The firing of rockets at civilian populations is a war crime. 

“Not only is it designed to terrorise and cause maximum loss of civilian life in Israel, the rockets are often deliberately fired from densely populated civilian areas in Gaza, to provide cover from Israeli return fire. 

“This also is a war crime that endangers the very people Palestinian militants claim to be protecting, and turns civilian infrastructure into legitimate military targets.”

Ryvchin added that the attacks “are timed to distract international attention from the growing uprising against Hamas’ tyrannical rule in Gaza, which is being brutally repressed by Palestinian security forces using methods including live fire and torture”.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler stated, “Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those injured in this terrifying attack not far from Tel Aviv.”

He noted that the attacks occurred in the same week as “the UNHRC’s obsessive focus on Israel”, in which the UN Human Rights Council passed five resolutions condemning Israel.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “Once again the world can see Hamas’ cynical, misguided and malevolent priorities. 

“Israel has an indisputable right to protect its citizens … Australia and all other nations of goodwill should both support that right, while acknowledging and searching for new ways to address the core reason for the ongoing violence constantly emanating from Gaza – Hamas’ determination to use the enclave as a launching pad for constant attacks on Israel.”

Stating that “our thoughts and prayers are with those injured in the attack at Kfar Saba and with the citizens of Israel who are forced to live under the threat of attack”, Zionism Victoria president Sharene Hambur said, “The recent escalation of rocket attacks from Gaza shows, once again, the provocative nature of Hamas which seeks to injure innocent civilians.”

Zionist Council of NSW president Richard Balkin said, “Our thoughts first and foremost are with those injured, especially the children, as we pray for their full and speedy recoveries. We also reaffirm our total and unwavering solidarity with the people of Israel during this difficult time.”

PETER KOHN