Blogger Conference Call on Israel-Hamas War: Israel Expects Support From Obama Administration
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations chaired a blogger conference call today. High level Israeli officials and military personnel briefed bloggers and broadcasters on the latest developments regarding Israel’s response to continued rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.
On the line were:
Mr. Jeremy Issacharoff, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Israel
Brigadier General in Reserve Relik Shafir of the Israeli Air Force
It was April 15, 2001 — When the rockets started.
Since then there has been over 3,000 rockets shot into Israel from Gaza.
We’ve tried to avoid open conflict. The rate of rocket fire began to increase over the past few days since the end of the so-called ceasefire. The ceasefire allowed Hamas to stock up on weapons and to add long range missiles to their arsenal. Israel exhausted diplomatic options before the military options. Hamas is very aware that Abu Massen is gaining more assistance from the West and Arab nations. That may a reason that Hamas increased attacks on Israel.
The goal is to cripple the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas.
–Primary purpose. Israel is using all of its resources for this objective. We don’t wish to see a return to the status quo. We want to deter Hamas from using military operations for political gain. Hamas is being targeted. Only Hamas. On the other hand, Hamas’s only target are Israeli civilians.
89 trucks of aide have passed through to Gaza. 93 more trucks have moved into Gaza today. Israel is making every effort to continue to move trucks of relief supplies into the strip. Any policy of appeasement at this time will only allow more attacks in the region. The US Administration stated that Hamas was responsible. It is imperative that Israel be allowed to continue at least so that Hamas will not be allowed to claim victory.
Question: What is the exit strategy?
–We are not in Gaza. We are pinpointing Hamas and their ability to attack Israel. We are still assessing the situation. We may need a ground operation. The goal is to cripple the capability of Hamas. The ones who need to think of an exit strategy are Hamas.
General Shafir spoke to us from the field– Right now he is in Ashkelon. It has taken 39 hits from Qassam rockets. There are not too many people out in the streets right now. We hear the sound of helicopters and planes in the air heading to the Gaza Strip. We hope that Hamas will run out of willpower or firepower, whichever comes first.
Question: Pamela Geller– Please talk more about the mission?
— We are trying at this point to defend our citizens. We have to keep half a million people in southern Israel out of harm’s way. We are not willing to fore go our ethics. We will painstakingly take out the targets one by one if necessary. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. There is no desire to reoccupy the Gaza Strip.
In no way will we go in and set up a buffer zone.
How affective the sorties especially the Gaza tunnels?
— We have taken out about 40 tunnels the first day. Most of these have caved in. The whole infrastructure has caved in and they are destroyed. Today there were more attacks on newly found tunnels. We’ve found it’s a hunt. We’ve warned residents with leaflets and then bombed the tunnels.
Question: Goals? A bottom line is a ceasefire with Hamas still in control?
— It’s still premature to answer that. We want to make sure the situation on the ground has dramatically changed. Smuggling has been a problem up to now. It has to be addressed in a fundamental way.
Question: Jim Hoft- The Bush Administration has been supportive of Israel. Are there any concerns about the support of the incoming Obama Administration?
Obama went to Sderot, Israel and said,
“If someone was sending rockets into
my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything
in my power to stop that.”
We see a large level of understanding with the Obama team. We have to keep a focus. The contacts before the election with the Obama Team were good. We took this initiative out of our own concerns and the situation we faced and not because of events elsewhere.
Question: What about Hezbollah?
We have seen no military signs in the north. We have not seen Hezbollah movement.
Atlas Shrugs has more from the conference call.