Friday, January 18, 2008


Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel - Isabel Kershner
Rockets fired by Palestinians slammed into the Israeli town of Sderot in quick succession Thursday evening on a third day of heightened hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. Hamas and other militant factions launched about 40 Kassam rockets throughout the day, Israeli Army officials said. Four Israelis were wounded and a dozen were treated for shock.

Eliyahu Cohen, 65, was surveying the damage to his home, which was struck during an early barrage about 8 a.m. His wife, Marcelle, had been alone in the house at the time, and had managed to reach a fortified basement room, escaping injury. At best, the municipal alert system gives residents about 20 seconds to find shelter from incoming rockets. The rocket crashed through an outside wall into the Cohens' kitchen, sending the refrigerator flying across the room and blasting off its door, which lodged in the ceiling. The ground floor was covered with broken glass and debris.

The house next door, where the Cohens' daughter, Nofit, lives, was also carpeted with glass and debris. "I'm happy that everyone was miraculously saved," said Mr. Cohen. As he spoke, another alert sounded, and about a dozen friends, relatives and local officials who had been standing outside tramped through the daughter's house, glass crunching underfoot, and crammed into a tiny fortified room. Thirteen Israelis have been killed since the rocket attacks started seven years ago, eight of them in Sderot. (New York Times)

Responding to Palestinian Rocket Fire, Israel Locks Down Gaza - Adel Zaanoun
Israel locked down Gaza on Thursday in a bid to halt daily Palestinian rocket fire. Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure of all border crossings to commercial traffic and individual travelers except for "exceptional humanitarian needs." The U.S. urged Israel to avoid the loss of innocent life in Gaza, but defended Israel's right to strike against rocket and mortar attacks from Islamic militants. Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said, "There is no need to negotiate with Hamas. If the rocket firings stop, we will cease operating in Gaza." (

Escalation of Terror in Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Beginning on Jan. 15 and over the next 24 hours, more than 100 rockets and mortars were fired by Palestinians from Gaza on the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon - indiscriminate fire raining down on Israeli civilians. A Hamas sniper murdered 20-year-old volunteer Carlos Chavez from Ecuador in the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha using a special .50 caliber sniper rifle.
  • More than two years ago, Israel removed all of its civilians, soldiers and settlements from Gaza and redeployed behind the recognized border in order to promote a peaceful solution - yet in return received Hamas-backed terror.
  • Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June, approximately 1,500 rockets and mortars have been launched at Israel. Israel has suffered dozens of casualties, hundreds of shock victims, thousands of traumatized children, and severe disruption of daily life. No democracy would watch its civilian population being targeted on a daily basis without responding. Every country is obliged to protect its citizens and would act as Israel to defend them.
  • A clear distinction must be made between Palestinian terror attacks against Israel and Israel's defensive response. Palestinian terrorists directly target Israeli civilians and use their own civilians as human shields. Israel does not view the people of Gaza as its enemy and is doing everything possible to prevent harm to innocent Palestinian civilians. Israel targets only the armed militants directly involved in the violence, rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli citizens.
  • Israel accepts the idea of two nation states living side by side in peace. Unfortunately, the Islamic extremists in Gaza are the greatest obstacle to a two-state solution. The armed Palestinian militants targeted by Israel are not just enemies of the Israeli people, they are enemies of peace. The world does not need another terrorist state. There can be no peace when the Hamas leadership in Gaza is more interested in the obliteration of Israel than in the two-state solution.
Hamas Seeking Escalation to Force Israel into Truce - Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay
Palestinians said they believe the escalation in rocket fire is part of a new Hamas policy aimed at forcing Israel into a ceasefire. Since Tuesday, Palestinians have fired more than 130 rockets and dozens of mortar shells at Israel. Hamas was responsible for most of Thursday's launches, and senior IDF officers believe that unless the situation calms down soon, Israel will have to further escalate its military operations.

Hamas has upgraded its launching capabilities: Some of the rockets that hit Israel this week were fired by remote control from buried launchers, which makes it hard for Israeli forces to attack the launch crews. Hizbullah used this tactic extensively during the Second Lebanon War. (Ha'aretz)

Israel Will Act to End Palestinian Rocket Attacks - Yaakov Katz
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday, "The IDF will continue in its ongoing operation [in Gaza] and deepen it in order to strike at the perpetrators, until the [rocket] firing stops....It won't be easy, it won't happen this weekend, but we will bring an end to Kassam attacks on Sderot." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "We are not looking to fight in Gaza, we do not want to harm its residents...but we will not and we cannot continue to suffer this relentless Kassam rocket fire." (Jerusalem Post)

See also Only a Military Operation in Gaza Will Stop the Palestinian Rocket Fire - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
There are only two ways to stop the rocket barrages on Sderot and Ashkelon. One way is to negotiate with Hamas and reach a cease-fire. However, this would mean that Israel could not act against Hamas, which will be free to prepare for the next war at a time when it feels ready. The second way is a military operation like Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002 - meaning Israel reconquers all those areas that are important to control. The area of Gaza used for firing rockets on Sderot is not particularly large and the threat can be neutralized in a few days. Such an operation would not only prevent rocket fire on Sderot, but also would prevent the continued strengthening of Hamas. Nevertheless, the price to be paid during such an operation will not be small, nor can it even be predicted. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)

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