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Update – 7 March 2008

Dear Advocates,

A little after 8:30pm on Thursday evening in Israel (5:30am Melbourne time) a terrorist infiltrated the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and opened fire on a library full of students. Eight students were murdered and more injured; at least three are in a serious condition.

The terrorist was reportedly an Israeli Arab from East Jerusalem. According a report from Haaretz, ‘Eight killed in terrorist attack at Jerusalem yeshiva’ “an organisation calling itself ‘Galilee Freedom Battalions – the Martyrs of Imad Mughiyeh’ took responsibility for the attack… The veracity of the claim was not clear.” It has also been reported that 500-600 shots were fired.

In Gaza, Hamas welcomed the terrorist attack and residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva.

Earlier the same day, an IDF soldier was killed while another was seriously wounded next to the border with Gaza when a bomb ripped through their jeep. A spokesman from Islamic Jihad stated, “we are sending our message to all the Zionist criminals… your threats to target the leaders of resistance… won’t scare us. We are going to continue our resistance and holy war, and we will continue to rain rockets on your colonies until we make them ghost towns.”

Additionally, eight Kassam rockets were fired into Israel with at least three homes receiving direct hits.

These are the actions and this is the behaviour of Arab terror including that of an elected government in Hamas. The deliberate targeting of civilians with shooting sprees, Kassam and GRAD missile attacks and suicide bombings continually reminds us of the indiscriminate nature of their terrorism.

Such behaviour is abhorrent and evil but it is not always covered in our local media which, in some cases tends to emphasize Israel’s responsibility for humanitarian conditions in Gaza as The Age does today but without examining why the situation has reached crisis point for all concerned.

The Herald Sun has provided some much needed context today with an Op Ed article by Alan Howe entitled ‘Code word for hate’. It was quite by chance that Mr. Howe’s article appeared today in the Herald Sun on the very morning that we received the tragic news of the Jerusalem yeshiva murder and of the response which Hamas issued to the effect that the group “blesses the (Jerusalem) operation. It will not be the last”.

Click here to read some talking points from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The issue of proportionality in relation to the situation in Gaza has been raised repeatedly. Read this report from MFA entitled ‘Responding to Hamas Attacks from Gaza – Issues of Proportionality Background Paper’, which responds to this issue.

The SZC, ZFA and AIJAC will be hosting Amotz Asa-El, Senior Israeli Commentator, former Executive News and Business Editor of the Jerusalem Post and Fellow at the Shalem Centre, on Sunday 16 March 2008 at 8:00pm at Beth Weizmann Community Centre. Click here for more details.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507