White House backs Israel’s right of self-defense following rocket attacks

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The White House said it supports Israel’s right to defend itself after Israel retaliated for strikes on the country from Gaza.

“Clearly the U.S. stands with the people of Israel as they defend their people and their nation against these kind of attacks,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Sunday in Germany, where the G7 summit of the world’s economic powers is being held.

Rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Saturday evening — the third attack in two weeks. In response, the Israel Defense Forces struck what it called in a statement “terror infrastructure” in the northern Gaza Strip.

On Sunday morning, before the U.S. statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the international community’s failure to speak out against the renewed rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel.

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“I have not heard anyone in the international community condemn this firing; neither has the U.N. said a word,” he said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “It will be interesting if this silence continues when we use our full strength to uphold our right to defend ourselves.

“Let it be clear: The spreading of hypocrisy in the world will not tie our hands and prevent us from protecting Israel’s citizens. Thus we have acted; thus we will act.”

In the latest attack, at least one rocket landed in an unpopulated area of Ashkelon. No damage or injuries were reported. Residents reported hearing the explosion.

The IDF also closed the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings between Israel and Gaza, with an exception for medical emergencies and humanitarian aid. The crossings were closed on Saturday night following an Israeli government directive, according to the IDF, and will require a government directive to reopen.

Last summer, Israel launched a 50-day military operation to stop rocket fire from the Gaza. Some 2,200 people, mostly Palestinians, were killed in the warfare.