On Sunday, June 25, 2006, Palestinian Hamas terrorists crossed in a tunnel from the Gaza Strip into Israel and attacked an IDF base at the Kerem Shalom crossing. Two soldiers were murdered, four were wounded (one seriously), and one soldier was abducted alive back to Gaza. Two terrorists were also killed in the attack. Hamas took responsibility for the raid, with its spokesman, Sami Abu Zahari, praising its perpetrators as “heroes of the Palestinian people.”
Israel considers the Palestinian Authority and its Hamas government to be fully responsible for the Kerem Shalom attack and for the fate of the kidnapped soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has all the necessary resources to ensure Shalit’s release and Israel calls on him to act immediately to resolve this crisis and avoid an unnecessary escalation of the conflict.
Similarly, Israel calls on the international community to use its influence vis-à-vis Chairman Abbas to obtain the release of Cpl. Shalit and to make clear to the PA the grave consequences of its failure to release him safe and sound.
In the absence of PA compliance with its humanitarian request, Israel reserves the right to take all necessary measures to implement the safe return of its kidnapped soldier.
Israel’s dead, wounded, and kidnapped soldiers were not the only victims of Sunday’s Hamas raid, for this terrorist raid is the latest in a series of attacks by Palestinian terrorist organizations on the main lifelines of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian terrorist organizations, in their fanatic opposition to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, regularly attack the crossings used to transfer goods and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. Once again, Hamas has proven that it does not hesitate to inflict harm on its own Palestinian population in pursuit of Islamist jihad.
Sunday's attack also comes against the background of daily barrages of Kassam artillery rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists at Israeli towns adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Since Israel's complete disengagement from Gaza almost a year ago, over 500 such rockets have hit Israeli territory, killing and wounding scores of Israeli civilians.
In targeting Israel’s civilian population, the Palestinian terrorist organizations deliberately and callously place their own civilians at risk by launching these rockets from their own population centers. They further display their contempt for their own countrymen by attacking the very crossings which enable the entire Palestinian population of Gaza to receive its essential supplies of food, medications, and other daily needs.
Despite Israel’s every effort to maintain the passage of goods and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population of Gaza, acts of terrorism oblige the security authorities to interrupt the flow of goods in order to safeguard those employed at the crossings and the forces protecting them.
As any sovereign state, Israel will take whatever steps necessary to protect its citizens and territory from Palestinian terrorism, the responsibility for whose consequences lies solely with the Palestinian Authority.
With this in mind, IDF units on June 28 began a combined, limited operation in the Gaza Strip for the purpose of rescuing the kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit and bringing him safely home, while dealing a blow to the Hamas terrorist infrastructure to prevent the continuation of its attacks from Gaza on civilians inside Israel.
The IDF operation follows exhaustive, but unsuccessful, diplomatic efforts to secure Shalit’s release by giving PA Chairman Abbas the opportunity to return him to his family. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held dozens of talks with her counterparts around the world, making it clear that, while Israel has indeed given priority to diplomatic efforts, it will not accept Hamas holding an Israeli citizen hostage and will do everything necessary to secure his release.
Concern for the fate of Gilad Shalit is growing among the entire population of Israel, for whom his release is a humanitarian matter of the highest order. While Israel certainly did not leave the Gaza Strip in order to return to it, the Government of Israel cannot accept its citizens being attacked by terrorists inside its territory day and night without exercising its sovereign right of self-defense.
Given that the Palestinian Authority is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, which took responsibility for the attack in which Cpl. Shalit was kidnapped, and after it became abundantly clear that the chairman of the Palestinian Authority is incapable of ensuring his return or preventing Kassam rocket fire, Israel had no choice but to act on its own. This rescue operation can be terminated immediately, conditional upon the release of Gilad Shalit.
It goes without saying that, in keeping with Israel’s policy of targeting only terrorist perpetrators, every effort will be made during this rescue operation to avoid harming innocent civilians. Israel expresses its hope that the international community will continue to pressure the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas terrorist organization, and its sponsors in order to bring about the release of Gilad Shalit and thereby avoid a further escalation of the situation.
Israel MFA: Behind the Headlines: Rescuing Gilad Shalit from his Hamas kidnappers