Hamas, the Islamic terrorist gang, which rules the Gaza Strip according to Islamic law, and whose raison d’etre is the elimination of the state of Israel, has been launching lethal rockets into Israel’s southern communities since around 2001.
The total number of rockets launched into Israel over the years reaches over 8000. There is also never a total suppression of rocket launchings from the Gaza Strip. The terrorists are constantly launching two or three rockets all the time, non-stop.
Although by a miracle – so far – the lethal rockets mainly strike open fields and do not injure anyone physically or damage property, the fact is over the years buildings in the south and automobiles have been struck and damaged by the lethal rockets, hundreds of innocent people have been injured, and as many as 28 killed.
At the end of 2008, the IDF invaded Gaza in the framework of Operation Cast Lead. The main reason for the operation was that in the months preceding December Hamas dramatically increased its rocket launchings into southern Israel.
The year 2008 saw a dramatic increase in the extent of Hamas rocket fire and mortar attacks, with a total of 3,278 rockets and mortar shells landing in Israeli territory (1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar shells). These numbers are double those of 2007 and 2006, years which had marked a five-fold increase over prior years.
There was also a significant increase in the number of Israeli residents exposed to rocket fire. Prior to 2008, the city of Sderot (about 20,000 residents) as well as villages around the Gaza Strip were the main targets of rocket fire and mortar shelling. In 2008, the cities of Ashkelon and Netivot came under attack by Grad artillery rockets with a range of about 20 kilometers.
Later, during Operation Cast Lead, Ashdod, Beersheba, and other cities were attacked by a previously un-identified rocket with a range of 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip. This rocket created a new reality in which nearly one million Israeli residents [about 15 percent of the entire population] were at risk.
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the objectives of Operation Cast Lead were twofold:
1.To stop the bombardment of Israeli civilians by destroying Hamas’ mortar and rocket launching apparatus and infrastructure.
2. To reduce the ability of Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza to perpetrate future attacks against the civilian population in Israel.
The operation lasted 22 days, after which the IDF unilaterally halted the fighting. Around 1400 Gaza terrorists were killed and 13 IDF soldiers.
The most significant outcome and the one with the most repercussions was the Goldstone Report, which deceitfully and groundlessly accused the IDF of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Operation.
But the point is, Cast Lead failed to achieve its objectives. Hamas and Islamic Jihad returned to their terrorist ways when the smoke from Cast Lead disappeared. Almost every day without fail, the terrorists are launching Qassam rockets or longer range Grad rockets into southern Israel.
In mid-March 2012 there was even a sudden upsurge in rocket launchings with an estimated 300 rockets falling in Israel in the course of 4 days. Among other things, schools were closed and 200,000 school kids had to stay home for their own safety.
During this heavy rocket fire the Iron Dome missile interception system performed admirably. It intercepted a high percentage of the incoming projectiles in a number of locations in the south.
But the fact is, Iron Dome is an extremely expensive placebo. Each interceptor missile the system fires costs $50,000. And so what if the terrorist rockets are to some extent intercepted and rendered harmless? This is treating the symptom, not the cause.
In time the terrorists will learn to outsmart Iron Dome. The paradox Israel faces in the Gaza Strip is how to summon the nerve and the resources – and the IDF strategy – to go in and wipe out the terrorist hornet’s nest there once and for all.
Israel controlled Gaza temporarily between 1956 and 1957 following the Suez Campaign known as Operation Kadesh. The IDF also captured the Gaza Strip in the Six Day War in 1967.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the IDF forces withdrew from Gaza and the area became one of the first areas turned over to Palestinian autonomy.
Hamas was founded in Gaza around 1987 by the late Sheikh Yassin, and its terrorist ideology and behavior patterns, which he promulgated, date from around that time also.
In 2007 of course, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup, after elections, and maintains political power there to this day.
The need for a Gaza ground operation to crush the Islamic terrorist gangs there grows with every terrorist rocket launched into Israel. No other country on earth has to endure what Israel endures from these despicable rockets.
A sweeping and destructive Gaza operation is needed that will impress itself indelibly on the terrorists and deter them once and for all from launching rockets at Israel.
The issue isn’t black and white and there are, it seems, higher considerations. It is believed that there is an understanding within the defense establishment, that there is currently no clear and decisive military solution to the Gaza-based terror threat.
It is also important to understand that Israel is probably not currently interested in a large-scale operation inside Gaza. Instead, the government is focused on Iran. This is, unfortuntely, a mistake, because with Gaza full of rockets and the terrorists who launch them, any action in Iran will lead to non-stop