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Yesterday — on the same day that Quartet representatives came to our region to help restart direct negotiations — the enemies of peace again showed their determination to carry out violence on the ground.
At around 11 p.m. local time yesterday, terrorists in Gaza fired a modified Katyusha rocket into Israel. It travelled some 35 kilometres and exploded in the vicinity of Ashdod, a major city that is home to more than 200,000 people. This was the third such attack in the past month.
At the same time that Israel takes bold steps to expand commercial activity and advance international development in Gaza, terrorists use the area as a launching ground for attacks against the Israeli people. The constant rain of rockets on our cities dramatically alters daily life. Dozens of Israelis were treated for shock last night. This morning, more than 3,000 Israeli children were kept out of school to ensure their safety. No people should have to live under such a spectre of terror.
Israel holds the Hamas terrorist organization fully responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza, where it remains in de facto control. The rockets that continue to fly out of the area illustrate a basic truth: the Palestinian Authority has absolutely zero authority in the Gaza Strip. While President Abbas continues his unilateral march for State recognition at the United Nations, the Palestinians are far from meeting the basic criteria for statehood, particularly the test of effective control. So-called Palestinian unity has been — and remains — a virtual reality.
Israel has accepted the principles outlined by the Quartet to restart negotiations immediately, without preconditions. We are waiting for the Palestinians to do the same and join us back at the negotiating table. With the roar of rockets echoing from the Gaza Strip, silence from the Palestinian Authority is unacceptable. Israel is still waiting to hear President Abbas clearly condemn Hamas for the terror that continues to flow from Gaza.
The details of this attack highlight a disturbing trend. The terrorist rockets in Gaza are travelling further — and their warheads are getting larger. This is a direct result of the continuous smuggling of advanced weapons from Iran and others into the Gaza Strip. Preventing this illegal activity is an integral part of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), but it receives hardly any attention from the international community.
The rocket fire emanating from Gaza represents a flagrant violation of international law. It must be addressed with the utmost seriousness. Israel expects the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the international community to condemn all of these attacks immediately and unequivocally. The People of Israel, like any other people, deserve to hear these acts of terror condemned with unmistakable clarity.
For any nation, there can be no greater priority, responsibility or obligation than safeguarding the security of its citizens. Israel is no exception. Although we were fortunate that there were no casualties resulting from this act of terrorism, Israel cannot and will not rely on good luck to protect its citizens. Israel has exercised and will continue to exercise its right to self-defence, as appropriate, and will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens.
I should be grateful if you would have this letter distributed as a document of the Security Council.