According to both Arab and Israeli sources, around 200 Hamas terrorists died, with upwards of 400 wounded. Most of the targets were Hamas command posts and training areas.
In a televised address on Saturday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said "On Thursday I made it clear to the residents of Gaza that we are not acting against them. We will do everything possible to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Residents of Gaza – you are not our enemies and we are not fighting against you."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a statement:
"Israeli citizens have been under the threat of daily attack from Gaza for years. Only this week - hundreds of missiles and mortar shells were fired at Israeli civilian communities including the firing of 80 missiles on a single day.For months, years even, Israel has tolerated constant Kassam and Katyusha rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Lebanon. In 2005, Israel forcibly removed thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, and turned the territory over to the Palestinians. The terrorist organization Hamas ended up in control of Gaza, and attacks on Israel have been continued almost daily (excluding a few cease-fires that Hamas ended up breaking). Throughout this whole ordeal, Israel has shown great restraint, endeavoring to minimize civilian casualties while dealing with terrorists, who have a tendency to use human shields.
Until now we have shown restraint. But today there is no other option than a military operation. We need to protect our citizens from attack through a military response against the terror infrastructure in Gaza.
This is the translation of our basic right to self defense.
Israel left Gaza in order to create an opportunity for peace. In return, the Hamas terror organization took control of Gaza and is using its citizens as cover while it deliberately targets Israeli communities and denies any chance for peace.
We have tried everything to reach calm without using force. We agreed to a truce through Egypt that was violated by Hamas, which continued to target Israel, hold Gilad Shalit and build up its arms.
Israel continues to act to prevent humanitarian crisis and to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians. Unfortunately, Hamas cynically abuses its own civilian population and their suffering for propaganda purposes. The responsibility for harm to civilians lies with Hamas."
Even with this history, a history marked with aggression few nations would allow, some in the West still call for a pacifistic response on the part of the victim, Israel. For example, here are a few responses.
Great Britain: Prime Minister Gordon Brown "[is] deeply concerned by continuing missile strikes from Gaza on Israel and by Israel’s response today. Peaceful means are the only way of reaching a lasting solution to the situation in Gaza... I understand the Israeli government’s sense of obligation to its population. Israel needs to meet its humanitarian obligations, act in a way to further the long-term vision of a two-state solution and do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties."
France: President Nicolas Sarkozy "strongly condemns the irresponsible provocations which led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force."
The UN: "The Secretary-General is deeply alarmed by today's heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel. He appeals for an immediate halt to all violence. While recognizing Israel''s security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza, he firmly reiterates Israel''s obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians."
The EU: "The EU condemns the Israeli bombardments as well as rocket attacks from Gaza. It demands that this stops immediately." Also, "I [Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief] call for an immediate cessation of military actions on both sides. The EU has repeatedly condemned rocket attacks against Israel. The current Israeli strikes are inflicting an unacceptable toll on Palestinian civilians and will only worsen the humanitarian crisis."
Should Israel give up her right to self defense, and sit idly by as her citizens are killed, injured, and displaced by continous rocket fire? Hamas, and other terrorist organizations, has proven time and again that they will not abide by cease-fires or treaties.
Would Great Britain tolerate an Irish terrorist group to bomb Northern Ireland, or a Welsh terrorist organization to shoot rockets into Birmingham? Would France allow a rogue group to fire mortars into Marseille, or Paris without any retaliaton? Would these countries allow attacks such as these to continue, day and night, for years? No.
But, the great nations of the world refuse to give Israel the same rights to self defense that they themselves claim.
I say this; the government and military of Israel has but one goal, and one goal only: to defend, protect, and advance the interests of the Israeli people. What other nations wish Israel to do or not do has no bearing; if the Israeli people are endangered, as they truly are, then let Israel defend herself. Hamas has plagued Israel for long enough; let Israel rid the world of this terrorist cancer.