As sirens blared across the country and civilians sought shelter, American Jewish Committee (AJC) called on the U.S. and other governments to condemn the rocket barrage directed against Israeli cities and towns today from Hamas-ruled Gaza – the latest unprovoked violence unleashed against the Jewish state.

Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have claimed credit for today’s barrage, and are threatening to continue their attacks, as both groups have done many times before.

“The world needs to clearly and unambiguously recognize the nature and aims of Palestinian terrorist organizations, and specifically their desire to wipe Israel off the map,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “Hamas and its well-armed, Iranian-supported allies in Gaza are fundamentally opposed to Israel’s very existence, and have employed rockets, missiles, incendiary balloons, and other weapons to attack Israel.”

Today alone, there have been at least 80 rockets fired from Gaza, while Hamas falsely claims that Israel was trying to change the status quo around the al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas further exacerbated the tense situation by inciting Palestinians to defend the mosque, just days after he himself cancelled planned Palestinian elections.

“Let’s be clear. Since 1967, Israel has protected freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem, a right denied to Jews during Israel’s first 19 years when Jordan was in control of the territory,” said Harris. “As in the past, Israel must take appropriate action to respond to the violence triggered by Hamas and supported by the PA. If any other sovereign nation were being attacked as Israel is today, would its response be any different than Israel’s?”

Harris urged governments and the media to examine the broader context of this latest round of Palestinian-instigated violence, which many have not been doing so far. “Hamas and its allies are using a complex, longstanding legal dispute over a few homes in Jerusalem to spark a wider conflict.”

Harris added, “Today, Israelis of all ages and backgrounds – Jews and Arabs, young and elderly – are forced yet again to seek shelter from the deadly threats of Palestinian violence.”

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