Dozens of U.S. lawmakers, senior elected officials and other political figures from both sides of the aisle condemned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad for launching hundreds of rockets from Gaza into Israel on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The United States condemns the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians,” Pence tweeted. “It’s clear Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza. America strongly affirms Israel’s right to defend itself.”
“Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist threats,” said former vice president and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. “It is intolerable that Israeli civilians live their lives under the constant fear of rocket attacks. That’s why our administration was such a strong supporter of Israel’s life-saving Iron Dome.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused Islamic Jihad’s Bahaa Abu al-Ata and others like him of advancing “their antisemitic goal of eradicating Israel.
“Palestinian terrorists commit the double war crime of firing rockets at civilians from behind human shields,” he added. “Last year, my bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on terrorists for using human shields became law, and I will work to ensure that those who do so are held accountable.”
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) said, “We stand with our ally Israel as innocent civilians are being targeted by indiscriminate rocket attacks,” he tweeted. “This uptick in attacks on civilians is deeply concerning, and we must support Israel in defending itself.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) shared a video of Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, and tweeted that “the U.S. will continue to stand strong with Israel and its right to self-defense, and the international community must have the courage to speak out against these attacks.”
“Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks,” added Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada. “In this difficult time, I stand with Israel and the Israeli people and call for continued bipartisan support for the US-Israel relationship.”
Reiterating her support of Israel, Congresswoman Nita Lowey tweeted, “Islamic Jihad’s indiscriminate bombing of Israeli communities has harmed civilians and continues to risk lives. I am proud to stand with Israel and fully support its right to protect itself against these undiscriminating attacks.”
“Israel has a sovereign right to defend her citizens from indiscriminate terrorist attacks. She experienced 100+ rockets launched at civilians today. I just led a bipartisan Israel trip w/ Congresswomen to deliver a commitment to Israel’s safety & security,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote on Twitter.
Organizations also condemned the rockets, including the U.S. mission to the UN and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
AIPAC shared a photo of Israeli children ducking on their school bus during an air raid siren and tweeted: “These children were on their way to school when Palestinian terrorists in Gaza started launching rockets into Israel, deliberately targeting Israeli citizens. Kids should be learning math & science, not how to cover their head on a school bus to protect themselves from rockets.”
J Street, the Jewish Progressive group, released a statement saying that the organization is “deeply concerned by the latest escalation between extremist militants in Gaza and Israel, in which the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has launched a barrage of rocket attacks against Israel following an IDF operation that killed a senior PIJ leader.
“We strongly condemn these rocket attacks on Israeli civilians,” J Street added. “At this time, our thoughts are with the residents of southern and central Israel, with the IDF forces working to keep them safe and with all civilians on both sides of the divide.
“We support Israel’s right to defend itself against acts of terror. We also urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the international community to take all possible steps to prevent a further escalation of armed conflict.”
On Tuesday, US Ambassador David M. Friedman started the rounds of condemnation and expressions of support for the Jewish state. He said that the US stands “with our friend and ally Israel at this critical moment” on social media on Tuesday after roughly 170 rockets were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Friedman further said Islamic Jihad, “an Islamist terrorist org backed by Iran” is attacking Israel with “100’s of missiles aimed at civilians.”
Advisor to US President Donald Trump Avi Berkowitz said on social media on Tuesday that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are the “main obstacles holding Gazans back” as they “put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza.”
He also said that “the US fully supports our partner & ally Israel in their fight against terrorism.”
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence tweeted, affirming the United States’ support for Israel and condemning the barrage of rockets.
“The United States condemns the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians. It’s clear Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza. America strongly affirms Israel’s right to defend itself,” Pence tweeted.
The United States condemns the barrage of rockets on Israeli civilians. It’s clear Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad put violence ahead of bettering the lives of the people of Gaza. America strongly affirms Israel’s right to defend itself.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 12, 2019
Israeli leaders, of course, reacted too. As the rockets started, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman claimed in an interview with Walla News that he wanted to target kill top
Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata a year ago, when serving as Defense Minister, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the one who resisted and prevented it.
“I claimed a year ago that we should have looked for a targeted killing of [al-Ata], then it was the prime minister who forcefully prevented it. It doesn’t matter why, he just did – but it’s better late than never,” Liberman said.
President Reuven Rivlin and politicians from across the political spectrum came out in support of the IDF operation Tuesday morning which killed al-Ata in the
Gaza Strip earlier in the day.
“We stand behind the security forces, who have been working for the success of this morning’s operations for a long time,” Rivlin said in a statement. “I know that they, and the Israeli government that approved the operation, have Israel’s security, and only that, in their minds.
“This is no time for political squabbles, and those who do so bring no credit to themselves. It is the time to stop such statements immediately. Israeli citizens – please listen to the life-saving instructions of the IDF Home Front Command and take good care of yourselves.”
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, praised the military for its successful operation and said it was the “right decision.” He added that he had been updated about the strike before it was carried out.
“Blue and White will support any justified action taken to keep Israel safe, and we place the security of our residents above politics,” Gantz said.
His fellow party member, former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, said that “Israel sent an important message last night that every terrorist is within its reach, and his life is in danger.”
Joint List MK Heba Yazbak slammed the government for the assassination.
“This war is not just a political ploy but is part of the continued policy of occupation, siege and targeted killings,” she said. “No one dares to say, ‘enough of the occupation and enough of the violence.’”
Former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz shared his support for Israel on Twitter.
“In these difficult hours my thoughts are with all Israelis who have had to seek refuge in shelters amid ongoing indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza, which I fully condemn,” he wrote. “Israel has every right to protect its civilian population and defend itself.”
Hamas, however, said that Israel must pay a price for al-Ata’s assassination.
In these difficult hours my thoughts are with all Israelis who have had to seek refuge in shelters amid ongoing indiscriminate rocket attacks from
#Gaza which I fully condemn.
#Israel has every right to protect its civilian population and defend itself.
— Sebastian Kurz (@sebastiankurz) November 12, 2019
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that “the blood of our people and leaders is a redline and precious to all Palestinians.” The killing of al-Ata, he added, is a “dangerous escalation and a continuation of the aggression and crimes against our people and its resistance.”
Barhoum accused the Israeli government of seeking to “export its internal crises and impose new equations” and said that Israel “must pay the price and bear responsibility for the consequences” of the targeted killing.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat condemned the assassination as a “crime.”
Erekat, in a statement published by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa, said that the Israeli government bears “full responsibility for the results of this crime.”