Sunday, March 11, 2012

11-Mar-12: Scenes from an asymmetrical war

The people of Ashdod, a city south of Tel Aviv, have had a maddening
weekend with incoming rocket sirens round the clock
and the kind of tension and fear that people living far
from here cannot imagine. This Reuters photo shows
a launcher, part of the Iron Dome rocket shield system,
freshly deployed in a field on the edge of the city. 
The terrorists of Gaza, as we noted earlier tonight, have so far flung (the best word we can think of for their indiscriminate firing into southern Israel) some 135 rockets into southern Israel in the latest escalation in this ongoing war.

Around 11 o'clock on Saturday night, a barrage of five rockets emanating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip crashed into the Eshkol region of southern Israel. This time, no injuries and no damage reported but there have been Israeli casualties during this past 30 hours of ceaseless indiscriminate rocket firing into Israel.

Most of the rockets have been fired in the general direction of Ashkelon and Ashdod and Gan Yavne, southern dormitory suburbs of Tel Aviv. One Israeli civilian was severely injured, but very fortunately the injury list at this stage is relatively short. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system developed and urgently pressed into service by the Israeli military last year has done an impressive job of intercepting those missiles and rockets calculated (by the IDF) to be heading towards populated areas and, as Tom Gross writes tonight, disregarding those that are heading towards fields and empty land:
Of the first hundred launched from Gaza in the last 24 hours, 29 of the incoming rockets were heading towards Israeli population centers. 27 of them have been intercepted by the Iron Dome: a success rate of 93%.
Ashdod, on Israel's southern coast: under more
normal circumstances, a relaxed, pleasant and
fast-growing Mediterranean city [Image Source]
A number of Palestinian Arab terrorists have been eliminated by IDF action in the past day, caught as they were in the act of launching rockets at Israeli targets. No doubt there will be changes in the coming hours, but at this point, we believe no Palestinian civilians have been harmed. The precision of the IDF attacks so far has been extraordinary.

The website of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights has been tracking this weekend's dead terrorists (hat tip to Mr Medad) and unwittingly helping the outside world see how much care the Israeli side takes in blunting the terrorists and their rockets while making maximum efforts to avoid injury or worse to bystanders. Here's a summary of their running list so far:
  • Friday, March 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm: A vehicle carrying two leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees was  struck from the air. The men inside were killed. They were Zuhair Mousa Ahmed al-Qaissi, 49, from Rafah, the so-called Secretary-General of the Popular Resistance Committees [more about him in a moment]; and Mahmoud Ahmed Hanani, 44, from Nablus, the son-in-law of al-Qaissi. [Note that the report states this son-in-law had been released from an Israeli prison and expelled to Gaza in 2006.]  The Times of Israel says tonight that al-Qaissi had boasted about his involvement in the kidnapping and holding for ransom of Gilad Shalit. He was the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, a somewhat shadowy terrorist group linked to Hamas. The Times quotes him saying shortly after the Shalit kidnapping that he was handed over to Hamas because Hamas “had the capabilities and the locations which allowed them to keep the prisoner in a safe secret place.” 
  • Friday, March 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm: Three "activists" [Palestinian Arab code-name for terrorists] of  the al-Quds Brigades division of Palestinian Islamic Jihad were spotted and killed from the air while they were "near al-Mentar Hill in the east of al-Shuja'iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City" [Israeli reports say they were in the process of firing off rockets into Israel at that exact moment]. The men's names: Mohammed Khaled Harara, 24; Fadel 'Obaid al-Gharabli, 25;  Hazem 'Awadh Quraiqe', 33.
  • Friday, March 9, 2012 at 10.30 pm: another pinpoint attack from an IDF jet eliminated Shadi Riad al-Saiqali, 27 another so-called "activist" from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, this time in the al-Tuffah neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. 
  • Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 12:45 am: Another air-borne attack on Palestinian Islamic Jihad "activists", meaning terrorists in the process of despatching rockets into Israel from a location "near the headquarters of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the center of Gaza City". Three terrorists were all eliminated. Their names: Fa'eq Sameer Sa'ad, 28; Mo'tassem Diab Hajjaj, 22;  Ahmed 'Abdul Fattah Hajjaj, 24.
  • Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 1:45 am:  Another air-borne attack on Palestinian Islamic Jihad "activists", meaning terrorists in the process of despatching rockets into Israel from a location "near Hammouda fuel station in the southeast of Beit Lahia". Killed: Mohammed Yahia Mohammed al-Mughari, 24; and Mahmoud Ismail Nejem, 22.  A third un-named terrorist (PHCR calls him an "activist") was seriously wounded.
  • Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 4:10, yet another precise air-borne IDF attack on Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists caught in the act. They were driving on Saladin road near the entrance of the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah. Their car took a direct hit, killing Mohammed Ibrahim al-Ghamri, 26. Three others terrorists in the car were wounded. 
The late Zuhair Mousa Ahmed al-Qaissi
The rain of rockets has not yet ended, and neither have Israeli pinpoint military attacks on specified targets in the Gaza area. Since there's uncertainty about how much freedom-to-operate the Gazan thugs still have at this point, the authorities in Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot, Kiryat Gat, Ofakim, Beer Tuvia, Yavne and Gedera have announced that all schools in their regions will be closed today (Sunday).

To call the news coverage of the ongoing rocket barrage on southern Israel minimal would be an understatement. It's almost entirely unreported, though the reactions to the untimely deaths of 'activists' from the Palestinian Arab side [for instance, "Israel launches deadly air strikes on Gaza" over at the BBC right now] are given wide, headline-level prominence, particularly in third-world countries. Hard not to be extremely cynical about the hypocrisy that produces results like this.

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