|Aftermath of Gazan rocket attack on Ashdod, 2012: |
What's the big deal?
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.
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...
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."
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 Sinai. But 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.