In remarks to the Iranian media Tuesday, a senior Iranian official stated that the annihilation of Israel is his country’s policy. Hussein Sheikholeslam, a foreign policy advisor to the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, said, “Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan.” This statement came in response to comments made by British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, who was in Tehran on Monday for the opening of the British Embassy (the embassy was closed in November 2011 after it was stormed by Iranian protesters). When Hammond was asked if Iranian policy is to destroy Israel, he answered that, while this was the approach of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current president Hassan Rouhani has a "more nuanced approach." Furthermore, when he was asked about Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s calls for death to Israel, he responded, “We’ve got to distinguish between revolutionary sloganising and what Iran actually does in the conduct of its foreign policy. We’ve got to, as we do with quite a number of countries, distinguish the internal political consumption rhetoric from the reality of the way they conduct their foreign policy.” Hammond has called his country’s post-deal relationship with Iran a “new phase” and suggested that Iran could be an ally in fighting terrorism.
Khamenei asserted on Saturday that Iranians “have realized that their stubborn enemy is the world arrogance and Zionism and that’s why they chant slogans against the US and Zionism [calling for death to Israel and death to America].” He and other senior Iranian officials have repeatedly made incendiary statements calling for Israel’s destruction. These words have been followed with action: The Israeli government has assessed that Iran was behind recent rocket attacks that struck northern Israel from Syrian territory last week. Israel submitted a complaint to the countries that were party to the July 14 accord, with the exception of Iran, last Friday, the text of which says that the attack was “another clear and blatant demonstration of Iran’s continued and unabating support and involvement in terrorist attacks” and a “clear indication of how Iran intends to continue to pursue its destabilizing actions and policies as the international sanctions regime is withdrawn in the near future.” In addition, over the weekend, Israeli security officials expressed worry that Iran was transferring long-range Fateh-313 surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, with a range of 310 miles, to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Hamas fired rockets at Israel from residential areas in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge last year in an attempt to provoke IDF retaliatory strikes and cause civilian casualties, Wojciech Cegielski, a reporter for Polish Radio, wrote in an op-ed published by Ha’aretz today.Cegielski worked in Gaza for a month last summer, and called the reality within the Hamas-dominated territory “much more complicated than can be seen from a distance.” The Polish journalist specifically recounted two incidents he witnessed in the midst of the conflict, which led him to conclude that Hamas terrorists “were breaking international rules of war and worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields.”
The first incident happened late in the evening. I was in the bathroom when I’ve heard a loud rocket noise and my Spanish colleague, a journalist who was renting a flat with me near the Gaza beach, started to scream. He wanted to light a cigarette and came to one of the open windows. The moment he was using his lighter, he saw a fireball in front of his eyes and lost his hearing.
From what our neighbors told us later, a man drove up in a pickup to our tiny street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt or killed.
Cegielski wrote that, after analyzing the incident, he and his colleague understood that those responsible for the rocket fire were attempting to draw a retaliatory Israeli strike on the residential neighborhood. Fortunately, Cegielski observed, “the rocket missed its target in Israel.”
The second story happened in the middle of the day. I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. During wartime, these hotels are occupied by foreign press and some NGOs. Every hotel is full and in its cafes many journalists spend their time discussing, writing, editing stories or just recharging the phones. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels. It was obvious that we journalists became a target. If the IDF would strike back, we all would be dead. What would Hamas do? It would not be surprising to hear about the “cruel Zionist regime killing innocent and free press.”
The incidents Cegielski recounted are similar to several that were reported last year. France 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick was on the air when a rocket was launched only meters away from his location and forced him to run for cover. Fenwick later returned to the area and found that the rocket launch site was in middle of a residential area and near a United Nations building. In another incident, a crew from India’s NDTV saw terrorists setting up a launch site outside of the hotel where they and other foreign journalists were staying. NDTV did not report about the incident until they left Gaza. (via TheTower.org)