Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Statement by Ambassador Gillerman Before UN Security Council on Qana

"We mourn at the deaths of civilians in Kafr Qana. If there were no Hizbullah this would never have happened. Israel has never targeted - and in this particular case did not target - innocent people "

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dan Gillerman
Permanent Representative of Israel

Before the Security Council

During the open debate on "The Situation in the Middle East"

(30 July 2006)

Mr. President,

I thank the Secretary-General for honouring us with his presence.

This is a horrible, sad and bloody Sunday. This is a day on which we mourn and grieve, together with the people of Lebanon, at the deaths of the innocents and civilians in Kafr Qana. Those people, including women and children, who were killed in this horrible, tragic incident may have been killed by Israeli fire, but they are the victims of Hizbullah: they are the victims of terror. If there were no Hizbullah, this would never have happened. If Lebanon were free of the stranglehold of that monster, this would never have happened. And, while we mourn the deaths of those people, we must stress that Israel has never targeted — and in this particular case did not target — innocent people.

Kafr Qana has been a hub for Hizbullah for a long time. Hizbullah has been launching missiles and rockets at Israel from Kafr Qana. We will make available to the Security Council a film that shows Hizbullah launching a rocket from right behind a three-storey house: a civilian residence very similar to the one that was hit today in Kafr Qana. That is the sad reality.

Israel has repeatedly beseeched the residents of Qana to leave. I would not be surprised if Hizbullah made them stay. We are dealing with a ruthless, cynical, cruel enemy, one of the most monstrous terror organizations that this world has ever known. They have no regard for Israeli life, and they have no regard for Lebanese life. They do not care about the people of Lebanon. They have infiltrated every fiber and every cell of that country, so that, in the words of my esteemed Lebanese colleague who appeared on United States television only last week, “You cannot distinguish in Lebanon between Hizbullah and the Lebanese.” In his words, Hizbullah is everywhere; in is words, Hizbullah has infiltrated and become part of Lebanese society.

But there is a huge moral disequivalence between the two sides. While our enemies — who only today have launched more than 100 missiles at Israeli towns and villages — specifically target women and children in order to kill them, we are defending ourselves in this brutal war. And sometimes, tragically, as happened today, women and children get hurt, because they are used as human shields by Hizbullah. Hizbullah has homes in Lebanon that house missiles — in which the family sleeps with a missile. When you sleep with a missile, sometimes you do not wake up in the morning. In Israel, we have homes that are equipped with air raid shelters to save people from bombs; in Lebanon, they have homes that they equip to launch missiles, taking into account that those people could be killed.

Today, we say that we are truly sorry for the people of Lebanon and for the people who were killed. I have never heard Hizbullah say that they are sorry for a single Israeli — woman, child, elderly person, civilian or innocent — who has been killed. Never. Why? Because they target us specifically. That is their declared aim, and that is what we are fighting. And while for us every dead Lebanese child is a horrible mistake and a tragedy, for them every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration.

I am saying emphatically at this table that I would not be surprised, because of their cynicism and brutality and total disregard for human life, if this is exactly what Hizbullah wanted to happen. I would not be surprised if this is something that they wanted and wished for precisely today, the day when Secretary Rice is in the region trying to reach a settlement. Because members of the Council know better than I that on any given day when we are so close to reaching a settlement, the terrorists, the extremists, the fundamentalists snatch it away from us, because they do not want a settlement.

And I must say that I feel that what is happening around this table today is exactly what they wanted to happen. Today, while there is mourning in Israel and in many other places around the world, there may very well be jubilation in Tehran, in Damascus and in the Hizbullah strongholds, because this is exactly what they want to happen. They want the Council to be called up to arms and to seize the fire. They want it to do exactly what it is being asked to do today. They want the Council to react the way in which it does.

I know that these are harsh words, but I believe them with all my heart. I beseech members not to play into their hands, not to provide them with what they seek while they sacrifice their own people as human shields and as victims.

And today, of all days, I would like to ask my Lebanese friend: tell your people, the brave people of Lebanon, the Government that you represent and your brave Prime Minister, for whom we have a lot of respect, that the demonstrations held today in Beirut should not be against the United Nations; they should be against Hizbullah. Hizbullah is the one that has caused you all this pain. Hizbullah is the monster that you have allowed to grow. If you had taken care of it before, if you had deployed your forces in the south, this would never have happened. And if the Security Council had enforced resolution 1559 (2004), this would never have happened. Tell your people to demonstrate not for blood, but for peace and for hope.

If we want to live together in this tough neighbourhood and in this blood-ridden region, we need to create a culture of hope rather than a culture of violence. We need to create a culture in which the children who were hurt in Qana would have been at school today rather than huddled together as hostages for Hizbullah — a culture in which the children of Qiryat Shemona would have gone to school today instead of being scared and huddling in bomb shelters because of Katyusha rockets. We need to change the culture of hatred. We need to teach our children about hope. And we should not let what happened today — tragic and horrible as it is — change the facts and the truth. And that is that Hizbullah must be totally disarmed. Otherwise, if there is a ceasefire today and if Hizbullah remains with its capabilities and its huge arsenal of arms, it will raise its ugly head again. And it will rise not just against us and against the people of Lebanon, but against the whole region and civilization as we know it. Do not let Iran and Tehran, the sponsors of Hizbullah, have their day. Make it clear that this must end — not that hostilities and fire must end, but that terror and Hizbullah must end, because until they do, there will be hostilities and there will be fire, and more innocents will pay the price.

Thank you Mr. President

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