Today, from 1-3 pm EST, the Israeli Consulate held a public press conference via the social networking site Twitter. Under the username IsraelConsulate, the consulate fielded questions on all aspects of the military assault on Gaza. You can view a list of questions asked along with the consulate’s response via the following links:
The following is my synopsis of the Q & A from the press conference, inferred from my reading of the questions and responses. I’m not attempting to speak for the Israeli government, and I welcome any corrections or clarifications it wishes to make regarding my interpretation. Many thanks to the Israeli Consulate for making this available to us via Twitter.–John Allison, III
Questions were fielded from a diverse group of Twitterers, including users sympathetic to Israel and those sympathetic to the terror group Hamas. Some of the questions posed even came from inside Israel. Topics covered addressed addressed the military action underway–it’s causes, conduct, and what will be required to end it, how to deal with the humanitarian crisis inside Gaza, and such things as the incident involving the Dignity and journalists’ access to the area.
The Israeli Consulate explained the cause of this military campaign was the firing of more than 10,000 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian targets since 2001. This Hamas assault endangers the lives of 500,000 Israelis. Though civilian casualties are occurring, the IDF targets only military installations. This policy is the exact opposite of Hamas, which intentionally targets civilians in an effort to maximize civilian casualties.
Though Hamas was elected to govern Gaza, the terror organization’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist and its policy of exterminating Israeli civilians disqualify it from being defined as a “Democratic” government in the eyes of the Israeli government. The consulate emphatically stated the government of Israel is not declaring war on the Palestinian people of Gaza, and it mourns every lost civilian life–Palestinian or Israeli. Civilian deaths are a result of Hamas’ placement of military installations in close proximity to civilians, in effect using those civilians as shields. Israel believes Hamas relishes even Palestinian civilian deaths for their propaganda value.
Addressing the cease fire proposed by the international community, Israel desires peace and diplomacy to achieve it. But, Hamas used these periods in the past to rearm, refortify, and strategize for the next wave of assaults against Israel. The objective of the operation is to eliminate the threat of rocket and mortar attacks on 500,000 Israeli civilians. When the IDF and the Israeli government believe that objective has been achieved, the operation will end.
Humanitarian aid is being allowed into Gaza. Thirty-eight truckloads of supplies were allowed to cross the border today and 17,000 such truckloads entered before the violence began. The wire services have correspondents in place inside Gaza, but more reporters are not being allowed in for their own safety.
Israel wants a peaceful, two-state solution. However, as long as Hamas continues to deny its right to exist and attacks Israeli civilians, Hamas cannot be a part of that solution.
The consulate chose to conduct this press conference via Twitter because it noticed many on the web dispersing inaccurate information. Israel continues to give press releases to the MSM, but believed this forum would help reduce the misinformation being propagated on the internet.