Dear friends,

Israel has launched the second phase of Operation Protective Edge, sending ground forces into the Gaza Strip with the aim of restoring security to the country.

As the past 10 days have shown, we repeatedly tried to end this conflict in a peaceful way. In the beginning, we tried to avoid the conflict altogether, offering Hamas “quiet for quiet.”

When Hamas kept up its rocket attacks, we, in the government, had no choice but to protect Israel’s citizens. Then, on Tuesday, we agreed to a ceasefire. While we laid down our weapons, Hamas kept on firing. Again, we were forced to engage.

On Thursday, we again stopped operations and waited to see what would happen. The moment the humanitarian pause ended, Hamas restarted its attacks with rocket salvos across the country.

Israel’s responsibility is to protect its citizens and that is exactly what we will do. We will also do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza. But we need to remember: when Hamas stores weapons in hospitals, when it launches rockets from mosques and when it runs operations from bedrooms, it is the one responsible for the damage and casualties incurred. Simply put, Hamas is killing its own people.

The Ministry for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs is following events throughout the Jewish World. Some Jews in the Diaspora, we know, are facing anti-Semitic attacks due to Israel’s operations. We are documenting what is happening and are in direct contact with the relevant Jewish communities.

We, in the Israeli government, appreciate your continued support. We understand that while the operation is being fought in Gaza, you are also on the frontlines in your communities, your offices and your college campuses.

When people criticize Israel, you are there to respond. When people accuse the IDF of war crimes, you are our soldiers’ defenders. And when people protest against Israel in your city squares, you are there to tell the truth.

This Shabbat, we will read the Torah portion of Matot which tells how the tribes of Gad, Reuven and half of Menashe asked to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan River. They explained that even if they were geographically distant, they would always stand by Am Yisrael in its battles and challenges.

As the past ten days have shown, we are one nation no matter where we might be.

I thank you again for your support and look forward to seeing you soon in a safe and secure Israel.

Sincerely,
Naftali Bennett
Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs