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Facts and context about the current round of violence
Operation ‘Shield and Arrow’ (May 9th, 2023): What is going on in Israel and Gaza right now?
On May 9, the IDF launched Operation Shield and Arrow with a series of surprise airstrikes against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group in Gaza. This comes after PIJ and others fired over 100 rockets at Israeli homes and families from May 2-3.
PIJ confirmed three of its senior leaders were killed, including:
Khalil Bahitini (left): al-Quds Brigades (AQB) commander in Northern Gaza, responsible for rocket attacks against Israel.
Tareq Ezzaldin (center): Operative responsible for funding and coordinating terrorist activities between PIJ cells in Gaza and the West Bank.
Jihad Ghanem (right): Jihad Ghanem: PIJ Military Council Secretary, coordinated weapons and money transfers between PIJ and Hamas.
Two other PIJ members were also reportedly killed while
transporting guided missiles for an attack against Israel.
Tragically, ten civilians were also reportedly killed in the initial airstrikes, all of whom were family members of PIJ leaders or their neighbors. The death or injury of any innocent person is a tragedy, and we mourn the loss of those caught in the midst of this conflict.
PIJ’s wave of attacks last week came after Khader Adnan, a PIJ official, died in prison in Israel after an 87-day hunger strike. He was arrested in February 2023 for being part of a terrorist group and inciting violence against Israeli civilians.
PIJ is responsible for countless terror attacks, including suicide bombings, shootings, car bombs, and rocket fire. PIJ rejects peace negotiations and any political resolution to the conflict, and instead seeks Israel’s destruction through violent means. PIJ is funded by Iran’s regime and is estimated to have thousands of rockets that can reach communities across Israel.
In response to Operation Shield and Arrow, PIJ said they would continue their terrorist attacks. Hamas, the Iran-backed terrorist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, threatened Israel as well. Israel is preparing for a possible escalation and has instructed residents in the south to stay near bomb shelters. Schools in southern Israel are canceled and hospitals are moving patients into fortified areas.
We reaffirm our support for Israel’s right to defend itself against imminent threats and hope for peace for all people in the region. We will continue to give updates as the situation develops.
What is Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)?
PIJ is an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Its main areas of operation are Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria. Backed by the Iranian and Syrian regimes, PIJ is the second-largest terrorist group in Gaza after Hamas, which rules the territory. PIJ seeks Israel’s destruction and is directly responsible for murdering many innocent Israeli civilians through suicide bombings, rocket fire, shootings, and other attacks.
Is Israel to blame for the conflict because it is more powerful than terrorist groups in Gaza?
No. The “imbalance of power” narrative is misleading and harmful. Anyone who wants safety, freedom, and dignity for all people in the region should be thankful that Israel has more power than Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups that control Gaza.
The only reason terrorists haven’t been able to murder hundreds, thousands, or even millions of Israelis is because Israel has the power to stop them. If Israel had less power, more innocent people would be dying right now.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a terrorist organization driven by genocidal racism. Its goal is not to “resist the occupation” but to kill Jews, destroy Israel, and replace it with a brutal regime of religious supremacy.
It uses its power to fire thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and uphold an oppressive regime (Hamas) that harms Palestinians in Gaza. PIJ is also funded and supported by Iran, a regional power that frequently threatens Israel with destruction.
PIJ and other terrorist groups could choose to end this conflict once and for all by stopping all violence against Israeli civilians, accepting Israel’s existence, and negotiating peace. If the group truly wanted a better future for Palestinians, that’s what it would do with its power.
Unfortunately, Israel can’t force terrorist groups to choose life over endless war, destruction, and death. If Israelis had the power to do that, the conflict would have been over a long time ago.
There is no easy solution to this horrible situation. However this much is clear: one-sided approaches that blame Israel, try to strip away its power, and shield terrorist groups from accountability will only fuel more suffering and conflict.
Those who want safety, freedom, and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians should not use the “imbalance of power” to empower PIJ, Hamas, or other terrorist organizations.
We hope this round of violence has come to an end, for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
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