Tuesday, May 01, 2012

1-May-12: If rocket attacks are no big deal for us, what should we expect our friends to say and do?

Aftermath of Gazan rocket attack on Ashdod, 2012:
What's the big deal?  
Regular readers of our postings know that we try to record as many as possible of the terrorist rocket attacks on Israel like the one that happened last night - see "30-Apr-12: Rocket crashes into southern Israel again tonight" -  and that almost no one heard about.

These deadly terrorist events impact the lives and homes of hundreds of thousands of Israelis. They are an integral part of a relentless and explosive ongoing war conducted against us by the terrorist forces arrayed against us from outside our borders and from within them. 

Despite this it is the case that our site is frequently among the mere handful of English-language sources to publish reports of such rocket attacks. If you don't know about them, what does that mean about the misery caused to the victims?

It's a situation that - given the effects of this kind of warfare on Israel's non-aggressive civilians and the phenomenal scale of the weaponry held by the terrorists - is simply appalling. There is no milder word.

In a thoughtful analysis entitled "Where 8,000 Rocket Launches Are Not a Casus Belli" [online here], journalist, commentator and JINSA Fellow Evelyn Gordon wonders about the wisdom of Israel's extraordinary passivity in the face of those attacks on its people and territory. Here's an extract: 
The most chilling comment I've seen on the mid-March surge of violence from Gaza, when terrorists fired 300 rockets at Israel in four days, was made almost three weeks earlier. The rocket fire had been steadily increasing, indicating that the deterrent effect of Israel's 2009 war in Gaza was fading, and Israel Defense Forces officers were discussing whether another large-scale operation in Gaza was needed. "The debate within the IDF," The Jerusalem Post reported, "is whether it needs to wait for a successful attack by Gaza terrorists - be it a rocket attack that causes casualties or a successful cross border attack - or if the sporadic rocket fire is enough of a justification to launch an operation today." Think about that: Palestinian terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets at Israel since its mid-2005 pullout from Gaza, along with thousands of mortar shells; even in 2011, a "quiet" year, there were 680 rocket and mortar launches, almost two a day. A million residents of Israel's south live in permanent fear, punctuated every few months by more intensive bouts of violence that, like the one in mid-March, close schools for days and empty workplaces of parents, who must stay home with their kids. In Sderot, the town closest to Gaza, an incredible 45% of children under six have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as have 41% of mothers and 33% of fathers; these statistics will presumably be replicated elsewhere as the rockets' increasing range brings ever more locales under regular fire. In any other country, such relentless shelling would unquestionably be a casus belli. But Israel's army was seriously debating whether this alone justified military action, or whether it had to wait until the rockets caused a mass-casualty incident. This is the rotten fruit of a government policy that for years dismissed the rockets as a minor nuisance for reasons of petty politics...
Ms. Gordon quotes the famous 2006 dictum of Israel's Vice-Prime Minister at the time, Shimon Peres - the same Shimon Peres who is now Israel's much-honored state president -  accusing Israelis from the Knesset podium of "stoking hysteria" about the rockets and demanding "What's the big deal?" 

For Israelis living in the exposed towns and communities of the south, it was not only a big deal but a harbinger of what was - and is - in store for the rest of us. And we don't mean just Israelis - but that's another analysis. 

Evelyn Gordon points out that when you have prominent Israeli voices wondering why people are making such a fuss over such small matters as rockets being fired at Israelis, then people and politicians outside Israel will quickly get the message and the fuss will go away

That's largely where we are today: a mere handful of the tens of thousands of lethal rockets held by the terrorist regimes who control our northern (Lebanese) and southern (Gazan) borders are fired indiscriminately in the general direction of anything Jewish or Israel, as they are daily. And it goes unreported and unremarked. 
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer told The Jerusalem Post Washington expected "a very serious Israeli response to the first act of [post-pullout] violence coming out of Gaza" and "was very surprised there was no reaction to the first rocket, second rocket and 15th rocket." But Sharon insisted the rockets were "not really that bad." Thus "all of a sudden," Kurtzer said, "people got acclimated to the idea that there can be rocket fire."
Gordon offers a concrete suggestion for what to do. Only Israel's citizens are actually thinking about what to do since only we bear the burden of the outcome. Only we have the obligation and the right. So:
Israel should begin warning relentlessly that if the rocket fire doesn't stop completely - as opposed to the current "norm" of one or two launches a day - it will be forced to reoccupy Gaza. That might actually galvanize constructive international action, such as pressure on Egypt to crack down on arms smuggling to Gaza and terrorist bases in SinaiBut if not, it would at least underscore how seriously Israel takes the rocket threat, since most Israelis have no more desire to reoccupy Gaza than they do to start a war with Iran. And it would thereby prepare world opinion for the operation if and when it ultimately takes place.
The whole Evelyn Gordon article is surely worth your attention.

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