Good morning. This morning, as a fragile ceasefire continues to hold in the Middle East, the elected leaders of Los Angeles are coming together with one voice to stand with Israel in her pursuit of peace and hopeful that today’s ceasefire will hold.
Let me be clear: we are not against the Palestinians, nor the residents of Gaza, both of whom have suffered needlessly in this conflict. Their suffering is not taken lightly, and it is heartbreaking to all of us. But we do stand with Israel against with a Hamas regime that in its own charter celebrates a day when its followers will “fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees,” and writes that Peace is “contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” A Hamas that terrorizes Israelis from the skies and now, from beneath the ground. A Hamas whose primary commitment is not, as it should be, to the security, safety and advancement of the Palestinian people, but to the destruction of the State of Israel. This regime willingly sacrifices innocent Palestinians and rebukes attempts to find peace.
This is not an empty statement by this Council. This is a statement of values, that here in Los Angeles we are affirming the incontrovertible right of Israelis to live in peace alongside their neighbors.
But today, that is not the case. At last report, more than three thousand rockets had been fired by Hamas terrorists from the tiny and densely populated Gaza strip. Were Canada or Mexico firing rockets daily into Los Angeles, I would expect our Armed Forces to respond.
The rockets keep coming as recent cease fires have failed to stop them. Terror tunnels, constructed with the express purpose of harming innocent Israelis, continue to be found, and continue to be destroyed. Heartbreakingly, the construction of these tunnels, estimated to have cost 40% of Hamas’s budget, have been built at the expense of delivering aid and services in one of the most densely populated corners of the world.
To stand with Hamas is to stand against the Palestinian people, and, as evidenced by Israel’s unilateral decision this morning to remove its troops from Gaza, to stand with Israel is to stand on the side of peace.
And here in Los Angeles, so it is heard from Jerusalem, to Tel Aviv, from Gaza City to Ramallah, we stand with Israel in the pursuit of a lasting peace.
Until Hamas militants lay down their arms and seek peace, as Israelis and Palestinians have for the last two decades, there can be no quiet.
And quiet is what we seek today. Instead of quiet, today Israelis hear sirens.
In a moment, we will hear that siren’s wail, when it concludes, I would like to ask for a moment of silence in the memory of all innocent lives lost in this conflict.
Let us take a moment to remember and honor those whose lives have been lost in this conflict, and concentrate our hopes for a lasting peace.