Israeli Consul General: 'They've Miscalculated Israel's Intent and Ability to Defend Itself'
On Tuesday, David Siegel, Consul General of the State of Israel, was interviewed by Breitbart Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro on the Ben Shapiro Show on Seattle’s AM 770 KTTH and stated that half of Israel's population, 4 million people, were hiding in bomb shelters as Hamas rockets from Gaza reached as far as Haifa.
Siegel: It’s a very difficult night in Israel. Roughly half our population, around 4 million people, are in bomb shelters tonight. You can only imagine what that would mean in American terms of just the number of people that are affected by this. Something like 20 cities in Israel have been subject to rocket attacks, all tonight. There were over 150 rockets fired at Israel. Around 30 were intercepted by Iron Dome. Those are the most dangerous ones but 117 landed. It’s a very, very serious escalation.
Shapiro: What do you think is the prospect here because it’s going to be difficult to keep half of Israel’s population under lock and key for the next several weeks. How long does this last? What can Israel do? And Israel is doing what they always do because Israel is a moral power, which we keep emphasizing here. And that means that Israel continues all the time to deliver telegraphed punches warning people that they’d better get out of the way, specifically targeting Hamas leaders. Does that mean a longer war? Or does that mean that Israel has to take its time with all of this as opposed to going in with crushing force?
Siegel: Well, as you said, there’s absolutely no moral equivalency between a terror organization that is specifically targeting civilians at a rate of around five rockets an hour, if not more, and a democracy that’s trying to defend itself and pinpoint responses in order to stop the rocket fire that, by the way, not only do they target civilians on our side but they hide among civilians on their side so they’re really endangering populations on both sides of the border, but Israel will have to do everything it can to stop this fire. No country would ever tolerate even one of these missiles, let alone 100 a day. We have announced that we are drafting 40,000 reserves and we’ve made it very clear, the prime minister made it very clear as late as this evening, that Hamas is responsible for this. We’ve offered quiet for quiet. They saw that as weakness. Again they’ve miscalculated Israel’s intent and ability to defend itself and you’re going to see over the next few days a very, very significant operation in order to bring a stop to this.
Shapiro: Does that mean, and I’m not going to ask you to telegraph everything here because Israel telegraphs far more than enough in my view, does that mean ground troops, because they’ve called up 40,000 troops? And the reason that folks should understand that Israel calls up ground troops – and people always say, “ooh, ground troops, that’s scary” – the reason Israel specifically calls up ground troops is because they don’t want to hit from the air, they don’t want to kill civilians. They want to avoid civilian casualties. They put Israeli soldiers in danger of being killed simply to avoid civilian casualties, no?
Siegel: That’s absolutely correct. I think we’re probably the only military in the world that provides warnings to its enemies before we attack and that is what you’re seeing tonight. And you said before, we give notification before we bomb terrorist installations and unfortunately that’s how democracies need to fight. It may take longer but we keep the upper hand morally.
Shapiro: Ok, David, I have to ask you because this is a Palestinian unity government. It is Hamas that is firing rockets from the Gaza strip into Israel. What has been the reaction of the Palestinian Authority, which is part of this unity government, Islamic Jihad which is also part of this unity government in Judea and Samaria? Has it remained relatively quiet there militarily and what exactly has Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority had to say about all this?
Siegel: Well, right now they’re calling on the United Nations to intervene against Israel and he’s complaining about Israel’s operation which is kind of laughable. On the other hand, we’ve said very, very clearly from the beginning that there should not be a government with terrorists in it and that is what happened. We’re still calling for the Palestinian Authority to separate or annul this pact. But right now, unfortunately, we’re in a completely different place. We’re focused on defending out own population, four million people that are in bomb shelters tonight and the first order of business here is to stop that rocket fire and to hit Hamas in such a significant way that we’ll re-establish our deterrence and they will understand that they cannot fire. Then we’ll see where we go from there.
Siegel later added that Hamas fired a rocket that was 115 kilometers in length and it landed a little bit south of Haifa, which is the furthest they’ve ever reached. He summed up by saying, “Right now the aim is to restore stability and quiet to southern Israel and now to central Israel and to stop that rocket fire.”