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Responding to Terrorist Rocket Attacks, Israel Strikes at Gaza

Twenty people were killed in Gaza on Thursday as the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out several strikes against terrorist targets in the Strip. IAF's response came after over 50 Kassam rockets were fired at the Western Negev on Wednesday, … Read More

By / February 29, 2008

Twenty people were killed in Gaza on Thursday as the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out several strikes against terrorist targets in the Strip. IAF's response came after over 50 Kassam rockets were fired at the Western Negev on Wednesday, killing 47-year old Roni Yihieh, a father of four. As the IAF carried out the strikes in Gaza, terrorists continued to fire rockets at Israel's border communities. At least 15 longer-range Grad rockets reached as far up north as Ashkelon, one of them scoring a direct hit on a house. Several people were wounded and treated for shock. At least two rocket squads were believed to have been hit during the IAF operations on Thursday. However, there were also civilians among the casualties, including at least five children. Four young boys were said to have been killed by an IAF missile while playing soccer in an open field. The IAF has yet to accept or deny responsibility for the strike. However, this didn't just start yesterday. The latest escalation of violence shrouds the fact that over 8500 rockets and mortars have been fired at sovereign Israel from the Gaza Strip the last seven years. The town of Sderot, with its 25 000 citizens, has become synonymous with this type of low frequency warfare. Due to the massive influx of heavy weaponry into the Strip in the end of last month when the Gaza-Egypt border was breached, the city of Ashkelon is now also within range of fire. While the profound dismay expressed continuously by the people of Sderot has not resulted in any decisive response by the Israeli government, it is hard to imagine that Ashkelon, with a population exceeding 100 000, will accept the same fate quietly. International calls on Israel for restraint and a proportionate response to these attacks belie the inherent disporportionality of the conflict itself. The expressed object of Hamas is to kill Jews, and they now have the means at their disposal to do this more effectively. Whereas the Kassam rockets fired since the beginning of the Second Intifada are often dismissed as being merely big firecrackers, the Grad rockets are essentially equal to the Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon during the summer of 2006. Their explosive payload is at least 10 times that of the much smaller Kassam, and their sudden appearance on the scene puts a quarter of a million Israeli citizens within their deadly range. The attack on Ashkelon yesterday probably marks the beginning of a calculated escalation by Hamas, which in the near future will lead to an inevitable showdown in the Strip. When this happens, it is crucial that Israel acts decisively, that the response is strategic and clear headed, aimed at revolutionizing the reality on the ground. The tactical strikes at random terrorist targets that we saw yesterday, with a good 25% of the casualties being civilian collateral, will not do the job.

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