Act against terror, WJC leaders urge UN after another deadly attack against Israeli civilians

Act against terror, WJC leaders urge UN after another deadly attack against Israeli civilians


19 August 2011

Leaders of the World Jewish Congress strongly condemned terror attacks against civilians near Eilat, in southern Israel. Eight Israelis were murdered and 25 injured in three coordinated attacks which according to Israeli government officials emanated from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israeli forces killed seven of the terrorists in a manhunt along the border with Egypt, and the IDF later launched 12 airstrikes inside Gaza. An Egyptian official said three Egyptian security men had died in the crossfire.

The WJC urged the international community to act against growing terrorism in the Middle East. President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “Once again, innocent people traveling on Israeli soil have been deliberately murdered by Arab gunmen. With continued political instability and a deteriorating security situation in Egypt and other Arab countries, the threats the Jewish state is facing are increasing. We therefore call on the United Nations to urgently come up with an action plan to fight growing terrorism in the region. Without security on the ground, it is futile to engage in lofty discussions about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

WJC Secretary General Dan Diker added: “After yet another brutal attack, the UN Security Council should live up to its name and take concrete steps to increase security in the region: eradicating terrorism and fighting those like Hamas in Gaza that allow it, encourage it and fund it, should be a number one priority. Clearly, these terrorist attacks were planned and executed under Hamas’ watch.

„Instead of derailing the peace process by backing the dangerous unilateralist plan proposed by the Palestinian Authority, which will imperil millions of Israelis, the United Nations must develop a plan to help root out violence, fanaticism and terrorism in the region, like it did ten years ago when al-Qaeda attacked the US from Afghanistan. Coercing Israel into an agreement with the Palestinians by ignoring its security needs will definitely not appease the terrorists in Gaza – it will only encourage them,” Diker said.

Israel blamed the Palestinian faction Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) for the attacks along its border with Egypt. Within hours of the assault, the Israeli airforce struck back at the PRC, which is based in Gaza, killing five of its members. Jerusalem said the gunmen had come from Gaza through Egypt. „If terror organisations think they can harm our citizens and get away with it, they will soon learn how wrong they are,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address. „We will make them pay a price, a very heavy price,” he added.

The attack began shortly after noon in southern Israel with gunfire at a civilian bus heading toward the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, currently at the height of the tourist season. A number of passengers were hit, the IDF said. The gunmen had crossed the border and set up an ambush along a 300-meter strip, armed with automatic weapons, grenades and suicide bomb belts. „We heard a shot and saw a window explode. I didn’t really understand what was happening at first,” passenger Idan Kaner told Israel’s ‘Channel 2’ television. „After another shot, there was chaos in the bus and everyone jumped on everyone else.” Within an hour, gunmen had riddled another passing bus and two cars with bullets and rigged a roadside bomb that detonated under an army jeep rushing to the scene. At the same time, mortar gunners in Gaza opened fire at soldiers along the Gaza-Israel border fence. TV video showed the first bus with its windows shattered. Its seats were stained with blood and luggage littered the aisle.

On Friday, a small al-Qaeda-linked group based in the Gaza Strip hailed the attack and said the Jewish state should expect more. According to the ‘Reuters’ news agency, the Tawheed and Jihad group also mourned the leader of an armed Palestinian faction, a top lieutenant and three other members who died in an Israeli air strike. „We in the Tawheed and Jihad group bless these blessed arms that pounded the fortifications of the vendeta-filled Jewish enemy in the so-called Eilat area in southern occupied Palestine,” the group said in a statement posted on the internet and cited by ‘Reuters’. It said the attack had sent Israel and „their border guards in the Egyptian army” a message that Egypt has joined the struggle against what it called the enemies of God.

Gazan terrorists fired at least ten rockets at southern Israel cities, one of which was shot down by an interceptor, the IDF said on Friday. Two rockets fired at the city of Ashdod caused damage and two injuries at a synagogue and school.

The White House denounced the „brutal terrorist attacks” near Eilat and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern about an „escalation” of violence in the region.