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I write to express my grave concern in the light of yet another alarming escalation of terrorist attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.
Earlier today, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired some 50 mortars into southern Israel, landing in the areas of Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Hanegev. These attacks — which represent an unprecedented increase in the projectile fire emanating from the Gaza Strip since the end of Operation Cast Lead in 2009 — injured two Israeli civilians in a kibbutz in Eshkol and caused damage to property. Launched from the Gaza Strip with the clear intention of targeting and terrorizing Israeli civilians, these mortars exploded in and around populated areas. The Hamas terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks.
Today’s serious escalation in the scope of projectile attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip follows what has already stood out as a troubling trend. Since the onset of 2011, more than 100 projectiles — including Qassam rockets, mortar shells and Grad missiles — have been fired from the Gaza Strip into communities and cities in southern Israel. As I highlighted in previous letters to the Council on 23 February 2011 (S/2011/90), 9 February 2011 (S/2011/65), 1 February 2011 (S/2011/49), 21 December 2010 (S/2010/652) and 9 December 2010 (S/2010/623), such attacks constitute a clear violation of international law and must be addressed with the utmost seriousness.
Israel holds the Hamas terrorist organization — the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip — fully responsible for all of these attacks. In view of these attacks, 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.
Today’s attacks highlight once again the very significant security challenges facing the Government and citizens of Israel on a daily basis. They also emphasize the dangerous consequences of the continued illegal smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip. As I wrote just yesterday in my letter to the Security Council, in the past week we witnessed another attempt by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic to transfer weaponry — including C-704 advanced anti-ship missiles and mortar shells — to terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip when three concealed containers of arms, munitions and military equipment were captured on board the Victoria cargo vessel.
Attempts to smuggle arms in to the Gaza Strip are conducted on a nearly daily basis — and are led by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic — in clear contravention of Security Council resolutions, including Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).
In view of these developments, Israel expects the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the international community to condemn all of these attacks in very clear terms. The Security Council and the international community must also devote much more attention to the prevention of smuggling of arms into Gaza, which fuels continuous rocket attacks against Israel and serves as a significant obstacle to peace and security in our region. Unfortunately, this important issue — an integral part of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) — does not receive the appropriate attention that it deserves.
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter distributed as a document of the Security Council.