More rocket fire in yet another escalation in the south

Running for cover in Ashkelon

Running for cover in Ashkelon

In a series of bombings, shootings and rocket fire, Hamas has seriously escalated the already volatile situation in the south of Israel over the weekend.

It all started up again last Thursday when an Israeli work crew near Nirim in the south was fired upon from Gaza. The IDF returned fire and sent in a routine patrol to Nirim to investigate the source of the fire.  Here’s the rest of the story from the Times of Israel:

Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening after finding a large tunnel filled with explosives running beneath the border fence with the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Soldiers conducting routine patrols of the border near the town of Nirim found a smuggling tunnel 4 meters deep and almost 5 meters wide burrowed beneath the border, the IDF Spokesperson said.

Nirim was the scene earlier in the day of an incident in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired on a work crew and IDF troops returned fire.

The patrol that discovered the tunnel crossed into the Gaza Strip to search for explosives, and, on their return, while repairing the border fence, an “extremely large” amount of explosives detonated on the Gaza side of the border. One soldier was very lightly injured, and an IDF jeep was damaged by the blast that reportedly launched it 20 meters.

“It’s a very large smuggling tunnel, unlike anything we’ve seen recently,” the spokesperson’s office said.

The troops ventured some 200 meters into the Strip, a rare move along the tense border.

[...]

Late Thursday night, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel considers the incident a serious event, holding Hamas responsible and adding that Israel will determine when and how to respond.

The army suspected that the tunnel was part of a “kidnapping attempt” or an attempt to kill IDF soldiers stationed along the border. In the past two weeks there have been three cases of explosives placed on the border injuring Israeli soldiers.

The IDF spokesperson confirmed that the explosion occurred in the vicinity where, earlier in the evening, Palestinian medical sources reported a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli fire.

The IDF had no information indicating its troops targeted anyone, and reported that there were no suspicious persons in the area when soldiers conducted their mission.

The spokesperson also could not confirm a report in Palestinian Wafa news agency that Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday when the boy was killed.

According to the IDF Spokesman’s blog, the explosion was caused by explosives in the tunnel itself, and not from a roadside bomb.

The next incident in this round of violence occurred today (Saturday) when Palestinian terrorists from Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF Jeep on the Israeli side of the border, seriously injuring 4 soldiers:

Four soldiers were wounded Saturday when an IDF force patrolling near Karni crossing was hit by terrorist fire. The military jeep sustained a direct, through-and-through hit by an anti-tank missile.

Two soldiers sustained serious injuries to the lower extremities and were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Two others were rushed to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon in moderate condition, suffering from shrapnel wounds.

The fire came from a location east of the Gaza Strip neighborhoods of Zeitun and Sajaiya. IDF forces scrambled to the scene and a heavy fire exchange followed, with the IDF using tanks and machine-guns to neutralize the threat.

Gaza sources said that IAF helicopters were flying over the Strip’s southern and eastern areas, as well.

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) military wing – claimed responsibility for the attack; but the IDF said that it was more likely the work of Islamic Jihad militents.

Later Saturday, the Al-Arabiya network reported that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed the attack.

Gaza medical sources reported of four fatalities and 25 casualties as a result of the IDF’s shelling. The causalities were taken to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Ayman al-Sahbani, a doctor at Shifa, said all of the casualties were civilians and the children were among the wounded.

Well, they would say that. Anything to smear the IDF and Israel. How better than to claim that women and children were the sole victims? The report continues:

Hamas security forces reportedly cleared all posts in the vicinity of the scene, fearing an imminent Israeli strike.

Now it becomes clear. The cowardly terrorists fire from amongst a civilian population – a clear war crime under international law – then run away leaving the civilian population to bear the brunt of any retaliation.

This brings us to tonight, where in retaliation for the IDF’s retaliation for the terrorists’ attacking an IDF patrol on the Israeli side of the border, the Palestinian terrorists from Gaza have launched another huge salvo of rockets on the south of Israel:

Moe than 30 rockets — eight of them long-range — were fired into Israel. There were no immediate reports of injuries in the rocket fire, although a woman in Ashdod broke her leg running to a safe area as a rocket alarm sounded. A car took a direct hit in a town in the Sha’ar Hanegev region adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

Schools were ordered closed Sunday in the town of Gan Yavne. Commercial traffic through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza was also canceled.

Rockets fell in the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regions, with at least one rocket reported to have landed near a kibbutz. One rocket hit a power line in a town in the Eshkol region, causing local power outages.

Alarms also sounded in the Ashdod and Ashkelon areas. The Iron Dome missile defense system shot down three rockets heading toward residential areas in Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Residents of communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip were told to remain within 15 seconds of sealed rooms or other safe areas.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the IDF had responded severely to the terrorist fire and will consider additional responses in the upcoming days.

“We will not let such border incidents go unanswered,” said Barak.

I don’t buy that for one minute. Israel’s response to the incessant rocket-fire is nowhere near strong enough or far enough. It will never stop unless and until the terrorists are thoroughly wiped out and defeated. Retaliatory bombings of empty storehouses or single rocket-launching crews is merely “putting out fires”.  The innocent residents of the south deserve a much stronger and more thorough response which will enable them to return to a normal way of life, one not lived within 15 seconds of shelter, one which does not lead to a devastatingly high level of trauma in children, a way of life which does not paralyse the economy or normal day-to-day activity.

There are several suggestions put forth in the article:

Likud Knesset member Danny Danon urged the government to cut off electricity supplies to Gaza. Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein called for the IDF to “deliver a decisive blow” against Gaza’s terror cells.

[...]

Former IDF chief of staff, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said that Gaza required “thorough treatment.”

“The terror organizations should be busy running for their lives instead of carrying out attacks,” said Mofaz.

And in case you wanted a new definition of chutzpah, read what the terrorists have to say for themselves:

In a text message to reporters, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum threatened to respond.

“Targeting civilians is a dangerous escalation that cannot be tolerated. The resistance has the full right to respond to the Israeli crimes,” he said.

Yep. Fire rockets at Israeli civilians from amongst your own civilian population and then threaten response against Israeli civilians for the IDF having hit back at you hiding amongst your civilians.

You couldn’t make it up.

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22 Responses to More rocket fire in yet another escalation in the south

  1. peteca1 says:

    It’s actually surprising hiw much the Israeli Gov’t puts up with Palestinian rockets. Can you imagine the furor if people living in Tijuana, Mexico started launching rockets across the border towards San Diego, California? You would never hear the end of it. I do understand that it’s not always easy or practical for the IDF to respond to every incident. But it’s very clear that this is a stage-managed show by the Palestinians.

    • anneinpt says:

      Spot-on comment Pete. And yet you hardly hear of the rockets outside of Israel, and if you do, it’s only in the context of “Israel hit back first”. It’s beyond infuriating.

  2. JudyPT says:

    How is it that every time there is an escalation of attacks from
    Gaza our so-called “Defense Team” has a confab on how to respond. Surely after all these years of warfare (that’s what it is) we should have a list of targets ready for immediate response before the terrorists have a chance to run and hide.

    By the way if we know where all these tunnels and launching sites are situated why have we not obliterated them already ?.

    • anneinpt says:

      Absolutely right, and I have no answer. Perhaps the army like to calibrate their response depending on the state of affairs in the field. Otherwise it makes no sense to me either.

  3. Leslie Greenberg says:

    So far, Danny Danon’s suggestion is the best and most practical. Hard to believe, but I’ve already grown accustomed to having rockets shot at me in Ashkelon and Israel responding with a fly swatter. And Israel cares more about its worldwide reputation (regardless of the fact that they all hate us anyway, and they greedily lap up the bullshit served by Hamas spokesman) than it does about its own civilians and sovereignty. So if we won’t strike militarily decisively–cut their power. We deliver their electricity and water. I say, every time there’s a single rocket attack, or border incident, they go without power and water for 24 hours. Let’s try for a cold war since apparently we lack the stomach for a hot one.

    • anneinpt says:

      Oy, Leslie, I didn’t realise your situation is that bad! Do you have a shelter or safe room? G-d help us here in PT if missiles started flying. We have a shelter but by the time we’d get down the stairs and into it I fear it would be too late.

      You’re right about Israel caring more about world opinion than its own citizens’ safety. It’s simply incomprehensible. See Peteca’s and Judypt’s comments above.

      • Leslie Greenberg says:

        I agree with everything Peteca and Judypt said. Yes, I have a safe room in my apartment, but I confess to not always using it. Aside from my fatalistic view, the notion of running from these bullies, sticks in my craw.

        I can’t emphasize enough how brilliant Danny Danon’s solution is. Everyone I’ve mentioned it to endorsed it wholeheartedly. I think it would be more effective strategically than going after individual battery units. Honestly–think about it–they fire rockets at our civilian population, and we supply them with water and electricity. And we’re supposed to be the smart ones…

  4. annediamond1 says:

    Well I had no Idea about what has been going on in Israel. Its not made the news headlines here in the UK . Israel must start letting the world know, what is happening, the world is small than one thinks.

    The internet has given all ample opportunity to make peace not war…..its crazy.

    • anneinpt says:

      It’s not only crazy, Anne, it is so terribly frustrating for us in Israel – even those of us not directly in the line of fire – to be glued to the news, listening to reports of more rocket fire, seeing pictures of residents of the south stuck in their bomb shelters or running for their lives (literally) within 15 seconds – and not a word is written in the international media. And if there is a mention, the numbers of rockets are wildly minimised. For example the Independent was writing as of this morning that 15 rockets fell. What 15??? By this morning nearly 100 rockets had fallen! And then when Israel takes defensive action – it can’t be called retaliation, it’s not simple revenge – THEN the world wakes up and people get upset because they don’t understand the context in which Israel is acting.

      It’s criminal.

  5. Andrea says:

    “Three air raids were carried out by Israeli forces last night on the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian militants have launched another rocket into Israel from the Gaza Strip” – this is English translation from Italian Agency press dispatch on most of newspaper in my country. How did you say….. ” Israel hit back first”

    TV national service was more accurate in reporting time of event and Bibi’s declaration was reported in the right context. It is not first time that pubilic TV is more objective than International Agency Press …this at least in my little country. It would be interesting that anyone of us could give a feedback on how news are reported in our own country.

    • anneinpt says:

      Very interesting Andrea. I too would love to hear how these rocket attacks are reported – or not reported – in other countries, and in what context Israel’s defensive actions are shown.

      The UK’s anti-Israel Independent had a quite accurate report even though it seriously underestimated the number of missiles. At least they got the chronology right. The Guardian made almost no mention at all and neither did the Daily Mail. The Daily Telegraph was the most accurate.

      As for the BBC, read BBC Watch for their coverage of the BBC and its biases. They’re a sister site of CiFWatch which monitors the Guardian.

  6. reality says:

    I read this morning a different article but one which summarizes our position as regards the UN. Ban Ki Moon asked Israel to act with restraint regarding firing back into Syria. Funny when rockets landed in Turkey the UN were HORRIFIED & immediatley backed their response,but when we respond its ‘careful don’t respond too much!” Act with restraint.Its the same with Gaza. Also we should say no to any suggested “ceasefire”that the Hamas want(& don’t even manage to keep)- read ceasefire started & only 2 rockets came over. As far as I’m concerned that is not a ceasefire.

    • anneinpt says:

      Well, you gotta take into account the UN’s natural state of being. i.e. Israel is SUPPOSED to be attacked, Israel is SUPPOSED to take it lying down, Israel is SUPPOSED to not retaliate and is SUPPOSED to expect to be condemned if it does respond.

      It’s obvious innit? You can’t honestly expect the UN to go against its own nature? (being sarcastic here…)

      I agree 100% re our response to Gaza. I don’t know what the Government is waiting for.

      • Leslie Greenberg says:

        Elections? Perhaps they fear our memories won’t sustain us long enough to garner our votes, and like last time, are deferring a significant operation for another month.

        • anneinpt says:

          Leslie, I posited that exact scenario to someone yesterday. They were sceptical at first, even I was being slightly ironic, but the more I think about it, the more it seems likely. Just drag out the situation for another month and then attack Gaza just in time for the run-up to the elections, with enough time for Bibi to look a hero. I’m generally a big fan of Bibi but this inaction is inexcusable.

          • Leslie Greenberg says:

            I completely agree with you about Bibi. On paper, he’s my guy–but his actions, or inactions, betray the politician in him. Maybe it’s time for Bibi to become Hasbara Minister for life, and bring in Danny Danon. You know what they say about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. And in my opinion, the world gets more dangerous every day. Little by little, the arabs manage to move the line in the sand closer to all of us. The American embassy in Libya is attacked and the ambassador killed–with no repercussions. Gaza lobs rockets at us every day. Now we’re getting mortar fire from Syria! These are all acts of WAR, and the only responses are mild reprimands, because apparently no one wants to upset the arabs! And all of this comes from people who boldly declare their intention to wipe us off the map, and kill all the infidels. What does it take to get a reaction in this world? Does no one take them seriously? After the Holocaust and 9/11, is it still possible that people underestimate the depravity that “humans” are capable of?

  7. DavidinPT says:

    Can anyone explain why there are no demonstrations against the government for their inadequate response to the Gazan missile barrage? It should also be made crystal clear to Netanyahu that we will not vote for him unless he publicly agrees that Ehud Barak will no longer serve as his Defence (sic) Minister. Bring on Liberman!

    • anneinpt says:

      There are no demos because the missiles are not hitting Tel Aviv and the center. Not that I wish that upon us, because that’s where I live. But you get my drift. Until us Tel Avivians and center-inhabitants get off our backsides and organize demos, the Gov’t can feel free to ignore us.

      I wouldn’t be too quick to not vote for Bibi. He’s the best of a bad bunch. otherwise we’ll end up with Olmert as PM! Or Ehud Barak… I shudder to think.

      • Leslie Greenberg says:

        Well the rockets may not scare me–but your last sentence does! Olmert and Barak–the twin incompetent parents of the last incursion into Lebanon against Hizballah. As bad as the Yom Kippur War was, I think we wouldn’t even be having this conversation today had those two been in charge.

        Returning once again to Danny Danon’s suggestion, which is now being picked up by the new party: Power to Israel, my cousin in NY said to me: supplying Gaza with power and water while they shell us everyday is tantamount to people surrounding my home and throwing rocks through my window, and I go out and bring them sandwiches and coffee. We have all abandoned rational thought living in our version of “normal”.

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