February 28, 2008
JINSA Report #749
Qassam rockets launched by Hamas (but initiated by Fatah when it controlled Gaza) into Israel are portable and relatively unsophisticated (certainly when compared to Scuds, Zelzals and other ballistic missiles with which Israel has been threatened over time). And since the Negev region near Gaza is not a major population center, it has been possible for the media to portray the rocket attacks as more of a nuisance than a threat â€“ in fact, it has even been said that they are fairly harmless unless one actually hits you.
Yesterday, shrapnel wounds to the chest killed Roni Yechiah, a 47-year-old father of four when a Qassam rocket hit his car on the outskirts of Sderot. On Monday, 10-year-old Yossi Haimov suffered severe injuries from a Qassam. On February 11, 8-year-old Osher Twito had his legs amputated after being hit by shrapnel from a Qassam. Yesterday, too, a Katyusha rocket exploded on the helipad of a hospital in Ashkelon while the hospital was treating casualties from Sderot. Two more Katyusha rockets hit Ashkelon, one in an industrial zone and another in the middle of a residential area.
The rise in serious and fatal injuries corresponds to a rise in the number and increasing precision of the rockets. More than 800 rockets and mortar shells have been fired into Israel from Gaza this year, an increase in the tempo from 2007, when 2,300 rockets hit. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the number is more than 4,500.
This is NOT a nuisance; this is an attack on the State of Israel by an organization backed by a state dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews.
Hamas said the shelling yesterday was in retaliation for an Israeli air strike in Gaza that killed three children. Indeed, because Abdullah Edwan and Mohammed Abu Aker were hiding behind them. Edwan was a Hamas rocket engineer and Abu Aker a Hamas rocket squad commander, targets of the Israeli strike. Locals told The New York Times the two had returned from Iran a few weeks ago.
Secretary of State Riceâ€™s response was the usual mixed bag. Asked if she advised against what a reporter called a â€œdisproportionateâ€ IDF response, she said, â€œI think thatâ€™s not a good way to address this issue. The issue is that the rocket attacks need to stop.â€ She added humanitarian concerns for the â€œinnocent people in Gaza who are being hurt,â€ even as she agreed that â€œHamas activities there are responsible.â€
Rockets do not launch themselves; they cannot stop themselves.
The better formulation, Mme. Secretary, is â€œHamas has to stop launching rockets.â€ Then, Mme. Secretary, put a little muscle behind it. The way to â€œaddress this issueâ€ and free â€œinnocent peopleâ€ â€“ Palestinian and Israeli â€“ from the depredations of Hamas, is to rid Gaza of Hamas and its Iranian support.
U.S. policy should be unwavering support of Israeli actions to protect the Israeli people. Perhaps American clarity would encourage the Palestinian people would rise up against their jailors, much like the Iraqis did against al Qaeda in Anbar, but if not, it might at least have the effect of removing concern about an American reaction from the Israeli government.