July 4, 2006 - Listening to most American TV broadcasts (and one can only wonder at coverage in other parts of the world), one would think Israel's operations in Gaza, meant to stop Palestinian rocket attacks, are happening in a vacuum. Nevertheless, the Palestinian rocket war against Israeli civilians is intensifying.
This war is by no means one-sided. Today Palestinians fired several rockets into Israel. One of them, an "upgraded" Qassam, struck the heart of the city of Ashkelon for the first time. It landed in a school playground. Fortunately there were no casualties, but children playing soccer nearby were thrown back by the force of the blast. There was damage to the school.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Apparently Hamas intends to make good on its threat to target Israeli children.
Israel's operation in Gaza must be understood in this context. It is not, as is often implied, an overreaction to the kidnapping of a single soldier. It is a response to the war started by Palestinian terror groups after Israel withdrew and dismantled its Gaza settlements. The Palestinian rocket war is an avowed attempt to force the evacuation of southern Israel - Israel's reward for clearing out of Gaza.
Just last week Palestinian terrorists claimed to have fired a rocket with a chemical warhead at southern Israel. It makes no difference to them that gas warfare was banned after World War 1, or that the intended targets were civilians. Their shamelessly bragging about this testifies to the absence of any standard of civility to which the Palestinians might be held.
(Update, 7/6/06: Two more Qassam rockets struck Ashkelon yesterday. Again Hamas claimed responsibility. Eight people suffered from shock, including two seven-year-old children. The Palestinian "resistance" continues.)
Azoulay, Yuval and Amos Harel. "Two Qassam Rockets Hit Southern Ashkelon." Haaretz, July 6, 2006.
Katz, Yaakov, Herb Keinon and Jerusalem Post Staff. "Olmert Vows Far-Reaching Ramifications for Hamas." Jerusalem Post, July 4, 2006.
Myre, Greg and Steven Erlanger. "Palestinian Ultimatum Passes Without Incident." New York Times, July 4, 2006.
Reuters News Staff. "Gaza Militants Say Fired Chemical-Tipped Warhead." Reuters, June 28, 2006.
Peace with Realism