Israel continues to
mount mechanized raids into Gaza. These are to go after specific terrorists,
and kill or capture them. The patrols also seek documents and to shut down
rocket making workshops, or other terrorist facilities. These raids demonstrate
that Hamas is not nearly as strong on the ground as it would like to be. Hamas
could call out thousands of gunmen to oppose these raids (which involve a few
hundred Israeli troops, at most), but because of Israeli helicopters, jet
fighters and UAVs overhead, these gunmen would mainly be good as targets for
missiles and smart bombs.
December 26, 2007: Violence along the Gaza border fence
continues, with several Israeli troops injured each week by rocks, explosions
or bullets. The Egyptians have it worse, because they have to deal with people
(smugglers of drugs and other goods) trying to get in, as well as out. This
week, an Egyptian border guard was killed in a gun battle with smugglers trying
to get into Gaza.
The government announced that 40
Iranian Jews had been smuggled out of Iran and brought to Israel via a third
country. This was given publicity in order to get word to the 25,000 Jews still
living in Iran, that Israel could get them out if life there became
December 25, 2007: For the first time
in seven years, large numbers of foreign tourists were able to visit Bethlehem.
The Palestinian terrorist campaign had kept the tourists out since 2000. Such
tourism is the mainstay of the local economy.
December 23, 2007: Israel approved a deal to spend $206 million
developing the "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system, to protect towns and other
facilities in southern and northern Israel. It will take five years to perfect
Iron Dome, which tells you something. But an interim system, to protect the
southern town of Sderot, could be in place within two years. The system has
some unique features. Iron Dome radars (there are two of them) quickly
calculate the trajectory of the incoming rocket (Palestinian Kassams from Gaza,
or Russian and Iranian designs favored by Hizbollah in Lebanon) and do nothing
if the rocket trajectory indicates it is going to land in an uninhabited area.
But if the computers predict a rocket coming down in an inhabited area, a
$40,000 guided missile is fired to intercept the rocket. This makes the system
cost-effective. That's because Hizbollah fired 4,000 rockets in 2006, and
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired over two thousand Kassam rockets in
the past six years. But over 90 percent of these rockets landed in uninhabited
areas. Still, 500 interceptor missiles costs $20 million. But that would save
over a hundred lives, and hundreds of injuries. A cheap price to pay,
especially if you are one of the victims, or potential victims. Israel already
has a radar system in place that gives some warning of approaching rockets.
Iron Dome will use that system, in
addition to another, more specialized radar.
December 21, 2007: Palestinians continue to fire homemade Kassam
rockets into southern Israel, but usually without much effect. A dozen or more
of these rockets are still being fired each week. For every 40 or so rockets
fired, an Israeli is killed or wounded.
December 20, 2007: Israel tested new radar software on its
Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems, by detecting and shooting down a low
flying target aircraft. During the 2006 war with Hizbollah, the Lebanese used low
flying Iranian UAVs to sneak into Israel. The Patriot improvements are intended
to avoid that.
Hamas proposed a holiday truce, but
Israeli sees this as a ploy to get a week of respite from Israeli attacks, so
preparations for more attacks on Israel can go forward unhindered. Plus, Hamas
says it cannot guarantee that there will be no rockets fired during the truce.
To the Israelis, that's no truce at all.
December 19, 2007: Israeli missile
attacks in Gaza killed 13 terrorist suspects. Israel is trying to shut down the
groups that continue to fire rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, or
against Israeli troops guarding the border fence. Hamas, and other terrorist groups in Gaza, are
not happy with the fact that the Israelis have managed to keep their Gaza
intelligence network going. That's mainly because many Gaza residents oppose
Hamas, or at least still support Hamas rival Fatah (which controls the West