Ya’alon spoke at a ceremony from Germany’s Platform 17 Friday, where he vowed to hold Hamas accountable for Thursday’s rocket fire on Israel.
“We view Hamas as responsible for what is happening in Gaza, and if it doesn’t know how to impose its authority over the [terror] cells that fire [rockets] and attack Israel, it will pay a heavy price,” Ya’alon declared. “The IDF and security forces will continue to pursue anyone who shoots at Israel or tries to carry out attacks against it, and will not hesitate to hurt him and the people who send him.”
Tensions escalated between Israel and Hamas Thursday, after Hamas terrorists fired rockets into southern Israel. No injuries were reported. The “Code Red” siren was sounded in the surrounding communities. It was the first time since Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 that a Gaza rocket struck near Netivot.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) responded Thursday night with air strikes, eliminating all targets with direct hits. Targets reportedly included a weapons facility and a terrorist center in northern Gaza, as well as a weapons storage site in southern Gaza.
“The IDF views all firing at Israeli territory as very serious and will continue to act strongly against anyone who carries out terror against the State of Israel,” an IDF spokesperson’s office release stated of the attack.
Ya’alon reiterated calls to defend Israel Friday at the ceremony, where he connected the message of the Holocaust to the right of Israel to protect itself.
“I stand here today in Germany on platform 17, from which German Jews were deported to ghettos and concentration camps just because they were Jews,” Ya’alon stated. “I stand here [both] as Defense Minister of Israel, and the son of Batya Smolinsky of the Zilber family of blessed memory, a survivor of the Holocaust who lost her family during the horror.”
“My mother survived the worst years of persecution, and did not know what the future will hold,” Ya’alon recounted. “She was only 18 years old, hiding in the woods, a member of the partisan fighters. After the war, she remained alone – without her parents and her sisters – and came to Israel to rebuild her life.”
“I stand here today at the railway platform which, like others, is the symbol of evil,” he continued. “I stand here as the Defense Minister of Israel, a country that in its 66 years of existence has become a rare and unique wonder of quality and excellence, a role model for the entire world.”
“A country with a rare military power that will reach out its hand in peace, but will not allow the systematic murder of Jews just because they are Jewish,” he continued. “A country that sanctifies human values and upholds morality.”
“I stand here today and remember my 6 million brothers and sisters – men and women, old and young – who less than 80 years ago were brought to their deaths just because they were Jews. And I vow in the name of the State of Israel: ‘Never Again!’,” he concluded.