Monday, October 31, 2011

Rockets hit south

Over the weekend, 40 rockets and mortars were fired into southern Israel from Gaza mainly by Islamic Jihad. A Grad long-range rocket killed a man in Ashkelon, Ami Moshe, 56. In addition, 20 were injured and 5 houses received direct hits. On Sat night the IAF attacked targets in Gaza focussing on active rocket firing cells. Ten Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed, including the head of their rocket production.

Egypt mediated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that was supposed to go into effect at 6 am Sun morning, but it was ignored by the terrorists. Later Islamic Jihad issued a statement saying that it did not know about the ceasefire and anyway it was taking revenge for the loss of IJ members. Israel issued a statement saying that as the effective Government of Gaza it held Hamas responsible for all attacks from its territory.

Some 200,000 children in the south, including Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheva, were kept home from school because of the danger. Approximately 1 million Inhabitants of the south were warned to stay within reach of a protected shelter. The Iron Dome anti-missile system failed to work and intercept any rockets or give advance warning because of a malfunction, which supposedly has now been fixed. Israel cannot allow a third of its territory being kept under constant threat of rocket attack.

It is reported that the rockets being used in these attacks are newer, upgraded rockets that have been obtained from Libya, transported via Egypt and the Sinai into Gaza. Whether these rockets were a gift from the new National Transitional Council of Libya or were collected by other extreme elements in Libya independently is unknown, but they clearly could not have been transported without the knowledge of the NTC and the Egyptian authorities. This represents a dangerous trend if the Arab countries of the so-called "Arab Spring" are now supporting Hamas and IJ in Gaza militarily, rather than supporting the so-called moderates of the PA on the West Bank.

One irony of the current situation is that the IJ is attacking Israel to send a message to Hamas, since it achieved popularity with the Schalit prisoner swap. Hamas will probably favor a ceasefire otherwise the second stage of the Schalit prisoner swap of another 550 Palestianin prisoners from Israeli jails might be in jeopardy. IJ are saying in effect, look we are here and we are attacking Israel while you are quiet. They are also sending this message to the PA Fatah leadership and to Iran, that is their sponsor. While Iran supports Hamas, IJ is actually Iran's subsidiary and it is gaining popularity among the young extremists in Gaza because IJ is more radical and more extreme. The headline in the Jerusalem Post this morning states that the IDF is planning an escalation of its counter-attacks against Gaza, but the Egytians are now trying to arrange a ceasefire between Islamic Jihad and Israel.


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