Turning to active defense - After years of Kassam rocket harassment, eight days of especially hectic fire by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists at Israel's civil population in the Western Negev finally provoked Israel's decisive military action. After the Israeli PM's last minute warnings and calls to stop the Hamas fire, today, on Saturday, 2008 December 27, Israel launched targeted air strikes against many Hamas military targets, terrorist leaders and their strongholds. Since years-long passive protecting measures remained less than fully sufficient, Israel turned to active defense to protect its citizens from further violence.
The attacks today - Today, under instruction of the Israeli Government responding to the demand of Israeli public, the Israeli Air Force struck at Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip. The simultaneous airborne attacks of approximately 50 carefully selected military targets were reported to have been executed with surgical accuracy and killed above 200 Hamas and other terror leaders and gunmen, mostly in uniform, until Saturday night. No lateral damage to civilians has been reported, what is an almost unbelievable and unprecedented achievement, thanks to Israel's exemplary devotion to saving innocent lives as much as possible, and to world leading human and hi-tech military information resources - illustrated by the attached photos . Israel hopes that these air strikes will convince Hamas to stop the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and to reach sustained truce. But if Hamas is not willing for this, the present military operation may be longer than anybody would want it to be, though nobody on Israel‘s side wishes to re-occupy Gaza.
The rocket attacks from Gaza - Palestinian Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilian targets started eight years ago. In 2005 Israel evacuated Gaza from all civilian and military presence, expecting that the Palestinian attacks would cease, but the opposite happened. Since Israel left all of Gaza in 2005 leaving it all to the Palestinians, terrorists have launched more than 6,300 rockets and mortars into Israel from there. These attacks have killed further 10 Israeli civilians, wounded more than 780 and traumatized many thousands. 250,000 Israeli civilians, including 100,000 children in the threatened area have lived recently in everyday terror from Palestinian rocket or missile attacks. Thousands of children have been living this way and run for their life daily to shelters for several years!
In 2008 alone, in spite of a ‘six-month-long so-called ‘ceasefire', Hamas and other Iran-backed terrorist groups in Gaza have fired more than 3,000 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians into Israel, killing four people and wounding more than 270. Israel's ceasefire with Hamas formally ended on Dec. 19, Israel suggested a renewed and corrected truce, but in the following eight days Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza fired 170 missiles, rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians, killing a resident of the city of Netivot, wounding four and traumatizing many thousands. A Grad missile hit the Negev town, Kiryat Gat, beyond the former Hamas range of 20 km. Hamas and other Iran-backed terrorist groups claimed responsibility for these attacks (data from The Israel Project).
"We want to live as good neighbors with Gaza" - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded to the increased Hamas attacks with "a last minute warning" to Gaza's citizens, in a televised interview on Dec. 25 on the leading pan-Arab al-Arabiyya TV network, by these words: "We ask You, the citizens of Gaza, to stop it [launching the Kassam rockets]. I know how much you want to get up in the morning to quiet, to take your children to kindergarten or school, the way we want to in Sderot and Netivot... We want to live as good neighbors with Gaza.... We do not want to harm you, we don't want a humanitarian crisis, that you suffer from lack of food or medicines. We do not want to fight the Palestinian people but we will not allow Hamas to strike our children."
Does Israel have the right to defend its citizens in this active way? - What would other countries do? Any sovereign country has the right and even the obligation to defend its citizens in all legal ways. Israel tried all other options before the present active defense, for a longer time than any other country would do it. Let's imagine, for how much time would the United States, Germany, the UK or France or Spain tolerate that a neighboring entity kill, by everyday rocket fire, 500 or 170 or 120 of its citizens (adjusted proportionally to the size of populations), respectively?