J Street is deeply concerned by the major escalation over the past 24 hours between Israel and militant groups in Gaza.
On Sunday, IDF forces conducted an apparent covert operation in Gaza, which ultimately led to the death of an Israeli lieutenant colonel and at least seven Palestinian fighters. In response, Hamas and other militant groups have today launched a barrage of over 200 rockets and mortars aimed at southern Israel. Their attacks have targeted civilian communities in the south of Israel and struck a bus. At least four Israelis have been injured so far, including one in severe condition. Israeli forces have countered with airstrikes in Gaza.
At this time, our thoughts are with the residents of southern Israel, with the IDF forces working to keep them safe and with civilians on both sides of the divide. We fear that, as has been the case so many times in the past, civilians will be engulfed in a rapid escalation of violence — causing mass devastation and ending in a stalemate that will only set back Israel’s long-term security and exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza. We have seen time and again that armed conflict cannot resolve this crisis and provide the people of Israel and Gaza with the peace and security they need.
It is frustrating and troubling that this new escalation of violence has come just as the parties were reportedly making major progress toward a diplomatic breakthrough. We urge all parties to take immediate steps to restore calm and return to this process. Members of the international community who have mediated between Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority must work swiftly to help put them back on track to a serious, substantive agreement that will ensure Israel’s security and provide much-needed humanitarian relief for Gaza.