In response to the most recent terror attack near the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City, the following statement was issued by World Jewish Congress President Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder:
Jerusalem’s Old City holds sacred significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Sadly, it has again been turned into a site of tragedy.
The recent attack near the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City, is a stark reminder that rocket fire from Gaza isn’t the only threat that the people of Israel face.
They must constantly remain vigilant of the danger that might lurk around the next corner. The thoughts of the Jewish world are with the victims of this heinous act. We wish them the swiftest recovery possible.
And yet there are still people who blame Israel instead of the people who are behind the terrorists attacks that involve Jerusalem’s Old City that has so many historical places for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.
Attacks began in 2001. Since then (August 2014 data), almost 20,000 rockets have hit southern Israel, all but a few thousand of them since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Hamas justified these as counter-attacks to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The rockets have killed 28 people and injured hundreds more. The range of the rockets has increased over time. The original Qassam rocket has a range of about 10 km (6.2 mi) but more advanced rockets, including versions of the old Soviet Grad or Katyusha have hit Israeli targets 40 km (25 mi) from Gaza.
Some analysts see the attacks as a shift away from reliance on suicide bombing, which was previously Hamas’s main method of attacking Israel, as an adoption of the rocket tactics used by Lebanese group Hezbollah.
All the Palestinian armed groups carry out rocket and mortar attacks, with varying frequency. The main groups are Hamas, Islamic Jihad the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Resistance Committees, Fatah, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In June 2007 Hamas took over from Fatah as the de facto governing authority in the Gaza Strip, while Fatah holds the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority.
Islamic Jihad has involved other Palestinians in the activities, running summer camps where children were taught how to hold a Qassam rocket launcher. One Islamic Jihad rocket maker, Awad al-Qiq, was a science teacher and headmaster at a United Nations school. Christopher Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said the UN had “zero-tolerance policy towards politics and militant activities in our schools”, but that they “cannot police people’s minds.
Iran is the sponsor of these groups.