The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies stands with Israel and unequivocally condemns the assault on Israeli civilians by Hamas and other terrorist organisations. Over the past few days, over 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israeli towns and cities by militants in Gaza, causing deaths and casualties and forcing millions of Israelis to take refuge in bomb shelters.

Hamas and other terrorist groups are not only acting without regard to civilian lives, but are actively seeking to maximise civilian casualties by targeting densely populated Israeli towns and cities. They fire rockets indiscriminately, endangering the lives and property of innocent civilians. This is a war crime which is exacerbated by the fact that Hamas uses its own people as human shields, endangering the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians when Israel seeks to defend itself.

Israel, like all nations, not only has a right but a responsibility to protect and defend its citizens. There is no moral equivalence to be drawn between a sovereign state defending itself from an unceasing barrage of rockets and a terrorist organisation which seeks to maximise death and destruction. Hamas bears full and total responsibility for the loss of life on both sides.

We mourn for all families which have lost innocent loved ones in this tragedy and pray for the recovery of the injured and a sustainable end to the violence.