As Operation Protective Edge stretches into another day, Hamas has continued bombarding Israel with scores of rockets today:
Israel’s Operation Protective Edge entered its second day Wednesday after a chaotic first 24 hours. Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip fired over 150 rockets into Israel, reaching farther into the country than ever before, and Israeli Air Force jets and Navy ships bombarded Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, putting the groups’ leadership in the crosshairs.
Hamas have been shooting their rockets scattershot all over the country, from the south to the center to the north. They are apparently using Syrian-made M302 long-range rockets in order to target towns as far north as Zichron Yaakov, just south of Haifa, and, for the first time, as far east as Dimona, which despite being in the south of the country is about 80 km east of Gaza.
However the Iron Dome has exceeded all expectations and has managed to shoot down at least 90% of the missiles that would have landed in populated areas. The ones that “got away” were those that were going to land in empty areas or the sea. However Israel’s air corridors have been changed slightly to avoid incoming rockets or Iron Dome projectiles:
Israel’s seven Iron Dome batteries have been deployed across the country to protect populated areas from short-range rockets, with the assistance of the David’s Sling missile defense system, which is designed to shoot down missiles with ranges of between 100 kilometers and 200 kilometers. Though the David’s Sling system, sometimes called Magic Wand, is still under development, it has been integrated into one of the Iron Dome batteries.
Meanwhile, there have been some changes to civilian aviation, including takeoff and landing paths, because Hamas is aiming some of its rockets at Ben-Gurion International Airport, about 80 kilometers from Gaza. This has also affected flight schedules, which have been spread out over more hours rather than clustered together.
Nonetheless most Israelis feel protected by the Iron Dome and are trying to keep some semblance of normal life. So Hamas in its frustration, like a spoiled child acting out, is going all out to try and achieve a “quality” attack, one that either results in many deaths or one that will grab Israel’s attention, for example a kidnapping, an infiltration into an army base or a civilian community, or bombing the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
They are also making use of human shields in order to cause many civilian casualties on their own side and thus turn public opinion against Israel but the world doesn’t seem so interested this time around.
“The international community is totally disinterested. Yes, there were a few press releases from [UK Foreign Secretary] William Hague and a few others, but generally the world doesn’t show any particular interest in this,” the official told The Times of Israel. “They’re either very tired of [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], or their attention is elsewhere, or they want to go on a summer vacation and don’t think this story is important enough.”
Even the Arab world has not gotten too excited about Israel’s offensive in Gaza, an Israeli diplomatic official said. “Egypt has given up on Hamas, they don’t care if we clobber them.” The Foreign Ministry in Cairo has condemned Operation Protective Edge but so far not gotten involved in efforts to reach a ceasefire.
Today Hamas frogmen once more tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim and once more were repulsed and killed, though the army is still searching the area in case there are more terrorists lurking about.
Watch how the army and air-force acted in concert to target and neutralize the 5 terrorists who tried to infiltrate Zikim yesterday:
Hamas also shot rockets at the Dimona nuclear reactor, but without success since the IDF had either foreknowledge or suspicions that this would be a target, and moved an Iron Dome battery into the vicinity.
As Avi Issacharoff explains the Hamas mindset:
Since the start of the operation, the IDF has attacked a large number of targets, some of Hamas, others of Islamic Jihad, including the homes of operatives who are using their families as human shields. That was the case on Tuesday with the Kaware family from Khan Yunis. Initially, warning shots were fired at the home of a family member, a Hamas operative, but instead of evacuating the building a large number of his relatives gathered on the roof to try to prevent an attack. Minutes later, however, the bombing took place, and seven members of a single family were killed, children among them.
This incident gave Hamas the pretext it wanted to launch rockets at the Dan region. For now, that is Hamas’s “great” achievement…
This isn’t the only Hezbollah tactic that Hamas is attempting to imitate. Just like the Lebanese Shiite group, Hamas is also attempting to carry out “quality” acts of terrorism. Thus far, its two attempts have failed: the infiltration of Hamas frogmen via the northern beaches of Gaza, heading to Zikim; and the explosives-filled tunnel at Rafah. In the case of the Zikim attack, all five members of the Hamas terror cell were killed. Not long before, the commander of that Hamas unit, Muhammed Shaaban, and two of his aides were eliminated in an Israeli airstrike. As for the Rafah tunnel, Israeli intelligence managed to thwart an unusual attempted attack: Hamas had spent months, if not years, digging that tunnel, which was intended to enable dozens of armed Hamas terrorists to carry out simultaneous raids inside Israel on numerous targets, including civilians.
The paradox, the Catch-22, is that the absence of a “victory picture,” so frustrating for Hamas, is only encouraging its operatives to intensify their attempted attacks. Hamas TV and the Arabic satellite stations are celebrating the rocket attacks and the “raids” on Zikim and at Rafah, but Hamas’s military chiefs can be expected to continue to invest no little planning and effort in the bid for a successful “quality” attack.
Hamas has options: raids via Sinai, paragliders or explosive-carrying drones, Zikim-style infiltrations from the sea, attacks on Israeli naval vessels, and more. The IDF suspects that Hamas has land-to-sea rockets with a 35-kilometer (22 mile) range.
This is an intolerable and dangerous reality for Israelis under fire, especially in the south of Israel where thousands of people have less than 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter when an alarm goes off.
Life under constant rocket fire has disrupted the daily routines of millions of Israelis. Summer camps for children have been canceled. Children are advised to be with their parents, in close proximity to bomb shelters. In many places, children remain in bomb shelters for the entire day in order to avoid being in open areas when the rocket siren sounds.
Transportation networks have been disrupted as train service in southern Israel has been canceled. Israelis are hesitant to drive in their cars because they do not want to be caught in the open when the rocket siren sounds. Public gatherings, such as concerts or festivals, have been canceled.
Businesses around the country, especially in the south, have suffered due to ongoing rocket fire. Many restaurants and shops have closed, as people prefer to be at home with their families near shelters.
A simple story from my daughter illustrates how absurd the situation has become. She and her husband were invited to a wedding which was supposed to take place in Ofakim, not far from Sderot. Since the army has banned all gatherings of over 300 people (Israeli weddings are big), the families moved the wedding – at a day’s notice – to Jerusalem… where they got caught up in a rocket attack.
This is what Hamas is hoping for – to make normal life impossible for Israelis, while at the same time trying to kill as many of us as they can, and causing us to kill as many of their civilians as possible, thus enabling them to cry “Victim!” and plead for help at the UN.
Too bad for them that no one is paying them much attention at the moment – though I expect that to change eventually. Israel is never allowed to finish the job properly once and for all.