Israel: How The Gaza Rocket War Works

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May 28, 2007: In the last two weeks, the rocket attacks into southern Israel killed two people, while Israeli counter-terror attacks in Gaza killed about fifty, most of whom were terrorists. Fatah considers the rocket attacks pointless and counterproductive. But Hamas is trapped by its own rhetoric of support for attacks on Israel, and cannot muster enough internal support to back a ceasefire. Moreover, the violence takes peoples minds off the continued inability of Hamas to govern the Palestinian territories, or do anything to revive the economy. Hamas won the last Palestinian elections because they were seen as less corrupt, but Hamas is also much more into the use of violence against Israel, and that comes with a cost to all Palestinians.

In Lebanon, the army continues to besiege a Palestinian refugee camp in the north, where a week of fighting against an al Qaeda group has left nearly a hundred dead. Hizbollah, after days of deliberation, announced it would not go to the aid of its fellow militants. This was largely because al Qaeda believes Shia are heretics, and often makes vicious attacks against Shia civilians and mosques. While Shia terrorists sometimes cooperate with al Qaeda against a common enemy, such deals are temporary and do nothing to patch up the differences between the two groups. The Lebanon battle, against 200-300 terrorists dug in outside the port of Tripoli, is an indication of how well the Lebanese army might do against Hizbollah. So far, the army isn't doing to great, but they aren't a total failure either.

May 27, 2007: The rocket attacks on southern Israel are very difficult to stop. The rockets are built in improvised workshops in constantly shifting locations, among the thousands of buildings in Gaza that the terrorists, with the assistance of Hamas, can commandeer. The rockets are moved up to northern Gaza at night and launched. Israel UAVs often detect these movements and launching operations, and call in artillery fire or missiles launched from aircraft or helicopters. This is where most of the Palestinian casualties occur. When possible, the terrorists use Palestinian civilians as involuntary human shields, and if this results in casualties from Israeli attacks, it is portrayed as a deliberate attack on civilians, which is generally accepted in the Arab world. This continued attacks has caused Israel to point out that it will keep escalating the use of military force until the rocket attacks stop. The Israeli army has been ordered to resume operations inside Gaza. But the army can only be effective if they can come up with some new tactics that will put the hurt on the Palestinian terrorist organizations inside Gaza. Israel has done the "new tactics" thing before, but it doesn't always work. More firepower is easy, new ideas are hard. But so far, the Israelis are way ahead of the Palestinians in that department.

May 26, 2007: One rocket was fired into southern Israel, landing near a residential area, causing anxiety, but no casualties. Hamas backed terrorists are managing to launch 10-20 rockets a week into southern Israel, but are losing one or two Palestinians killed for each rocket successfully launched. Israeli countermeasures are making it increasingly dangerous to move rockets into firing positions in northern Gaza. So far, the terrorists have been unable to design a longer range rocket that could be fired from more densely populated areas in southern or central Gaza.

May 25, 2007: Israel arrested 33 Hamas officials in the West Bank. These men will be held in an effort to get Hamas to go along with a ceasefire. If Hamas does not, they will have lost the services of some of their more able leaders. In Jerusalem, two Palestinian terrorists fired on security guards with a pistol, wounding two. Return fire killed the Palestinians. While it is very difficult to get bombs into Israel, pistols and knives can be obtained from criminals. But attacks with these weapons are more difficult to carry out, requiring more skill and discipline than for a suicide bomb attack.

May 24, 2007: Fatah has agreed to a ceasefire, but Hamas refuses, and the rocket attacks against southern Israel continue.

May 23, 2007: Israel has begun arresting Hamas officials in the West Bank, in retaliation for Hamas resistance to a new ceasefire (that would involve halting the rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel.) One of the Israeli air strikes was against some Gaza money changers who have been handling the transfer of millions of dollars to Hamas officials inside Gaza. This is the first time the air force has taken part in operations against terrorist financing.

May 22, 2007: Palestinian terrorists, encouraged by the a rocket killing a woman in southern Israel yesterday, say they will never stop launching the rockets until Israel stops all military operations in Gaza and the West Bank. This would mean all counter-terror operations would halt, and Palestinian groups trying to launch terror attacks inside Israel would have a much easier time of it. Israeli counter-terror tactics have been very successful in the past few years, mainly because they concentrate on the key people in the groups that plan and carry out suicide bomber attacks. That means arresting people in the Palestinian territories, and using missiles to kill terrorists or destroy bomb factories or other targets. For the terrorists, getting Israel to stop these attacks would be a major victory, and would lead to more suicide bomber attacks inside Israel. The major Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, are not willing to stop the more militant factions from launching these rocket attacks. This would be very unpopular, as the Arab media portrays the terrorists attacking Israel as heroic, if tragic and futile, figures.

 

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