Special Report: JERUSALEM—Following last Thursday’s vicious multi-stage terror attack, which resulted in the deaths of eight Israelis and included attacks on civilian vehicles, Israeli Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Mark Regev said the lack of a formal condemnation of the terror from the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank raises “serious questions.” Regev, speaking by phone with The Mideast Update, also noted the contrast between the Arab League’s condemnation of Israel’s military response in Gaza to the terror coming from there and their weak critique of Syria’s brutality against its own people.
While Gaza has launched dozens of rockets at Israel since Thursday and is believed to have been the origin of Thursday’s terror attack, the separate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has so far issued repeated critiques of Israel for their targeted military response to terror in Gaza without formally condemning the terror attack that began the escalation.
Said Regev of the West Bank leaders, “The Palestinian leadership’s failure to condemn last Thursday’s terrorist attack in the south—which was the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorists—raises serious questions as to their stated readiness for independence and their commitment to fight terrorism.”
The concerns raised by Israel come less than a month before the Palestinians are expected to try and go to the United Nations to seek statehood recognition outside of a peace deal with Israel. While the Palestinians have said such a step can work with negotiations afterwards, Israel feels it would formalize hardline Palestinian positions on a deal, making compromise even more difficult. The US, Germany and others have also expressed their opposition to the move.
The WAFA Palestinian news agency reported that the Arab League, which has endorsed the Palestinian UN move, condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Regev said in response, “The Arab League, which put out a very, very mild statement about Syria, where the regime there butchers its people, has no qualms whatsoever about putting an extreme statement about Israel, when everyone knows that this whole escalation was triggered by the fact that terrorists crossed into Israel from an Arab League member. The aggression was launched from an Arab League country. That they’ve conveniently forgotten.”
It is believed that while Gaza terrorists were behind Thursday’s multipronged attack, they likely snuck into Israel from the Egyptian Sinai. Egypt is not being accused of being behind the attack, although concern has been raised about the apparently limited effectiveness of Egyptian control of the Sinai.
Meanwhile, rocket attacks continued into Israel on Monday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed. Regev noted that Israel’s military response to the attacks is not intended to harm the civilians in Gaza.
“The Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] has instructed the military to make every effort to avoid harming Gaza civilians. Ultimately, they are not our enemy,” said Regev. “Our goal is to target as surgically as is possible those directly responsible for firing rockets upon Israeli civilians.”
Regev said the Israeli military activities are also intended to prevent Gaza rocket and missile fire on Israeli cities.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 22, 2011)