Friday, December 07, 2007

7-Nov-07: Escalatingly lethal fireworks

Israel, as we routinely note here, has absorbed daily barrages of rockets with what we regard as unbearable restraint. Barrages that the mainstream media largely bury and ignore, but barrages nonetheless, that have cost Israeli lives and brought chaos into cities, towns and homes of southern Israel with barely a murmur of protest from anyone.

During this past year, it's been known that the IDF and the Shin Bet have built their strategy around two red lines. Crossing them would trigger the sort of response that Israel's military can deliver but very strongly prefers not to. Those red lines are: (1) an improvement in the range of the Qassam rockets of the sort that would place the major Israeli city of Ashkelon (population around 108,000) within firing range of the Gazan terrorists. And (2) the development of an ability by the terrorists to store their rockets for longer periods of time.

Haaretz reports this afternoon that one red line has now been crossed, and the other is very close. The paper says "Hamas has recently upgraded its Qassam rocket capability in the Gaza Strip, raising grave concern in the Israeli defense establishment. Senior defense officials say that Hamas is now able to store the rockets for a relatively long period, which would allow the organization to launch a large number of Qassams at one time."

The paper says Hamas had difficulty, until recently, in storing its Qassam rockets. The explosive charge is volatile and can (and does) explode when stored for more than a few weeks.
"This is one of the reasons behind Hamas' haste to launch most of its rockets as soon as it gets them. When firing rockets is politically inconvenient, Hamas hands them over to smaller organizations such as the Islamic Jihad, various Fatah factions and the Popular Resistance Committees to launch them in its place. In previous periods of escalation between Israel and Hamas, such as last year's Independence Day, Hamas fired almost 300 rockets in a few days before running out of supplies."
According to Haaretz, Israel's defense establishment is concerned that Hamas will accumulate an arsenal of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of rockets, enabling it to fire hundreds of rockets a day at Sderot for several days and prompting Israel to take extreme measures.
"The improvement in rocket-storage capability followed the entrance into Gaza in recent months of Palestinian terror experts, mostly via the Rafah crossing from Egypt. These experts, members of Islamic organizations, trained with Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon and Iran. Alongside the ability to store rockets for longer periods, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, with Iran's help, are expected to increase the Qassam rockets' 15-kilometer range, which would place Ashkelon and dozens of small communities in the northern and western Negev within rocket range."
As concerned as Israelis are with the clear direction indicated by this report, most of our fellow-citizens would prefer to see the armed forces sit by the sidelines will the perpetrators of daily terror are dealt with in less-intrusive and dangerous ways.

We routinely get hate-mail here "explaining" to us the inherent justification of acts of terror against Israel and Israelis. We understand the hypocrisy and don't let it bother us too much, and the same goes for most other Israelis.

Our point is that when confronted with existential dangers like this one, and when appealing to the sense and morality of onlookers and the world "community" has no effect, you are left with no option but self-help. This has long guided this country's leaders and it looks like we're not far away from the resort to self-help once more. Sadly, that's part of the price of living in an era of uncontrolled terror and widespread ignorance of the price it exacts from civil society.

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