ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Kassams on Sderot: Time to Change the Rules 30.9.04

Kassams on Sderot: Time to Change the Rules

30 September 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Every day the Islamic terror organization, Hamas, fires Kassam rockets into the northern Negev development town of Sderot. Yesterday, two children, aged two and four were killed and tens of other civilians injured. The IDF needs to enter the northern Gaza Strip to deny terror organizations the Kassam launch zones, knowing full well the Palestinian objective in such rocket attacks is to draw the IDF into Gaza, permanently.

But first to the situation on the ground. The fence around the Strip has helped keep out terrorist infiltrators, but cannot stop rockets. Israeli public demand for retaliation, if not contained, can force a tactical frenzy of military activity, resulting in a long- term occupation of northern Gaza. Bogging down the IDF in fixed positions while using guerilla hit-and-run tactics would work to the Palestinians' advantage. Furthermore, any prolonged stay could force the reestablishment of a civil administration to deal with Palestinians held under occupation is such places as Bet Hanoun and Bet Lahia.

As Palestinian attacks increase with civilian casualties, a knee jerk opposition is expected to consolidate against PM Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan. The "don't give them an inch" and "no withdrawal under fire" mentality is exactly what the Palestinians want to achieve among the Israeli public. Should Israel dig in and not go through with the Disengagement, Third World and certain Europeans will increase demands for a bi-national state, the excuse being Israel's refusal to leave any Palestinian areas. Drawn into a trap, Israeli explanations of "a military presence" to ensure the safety of Sderot, will be blown off as irrelevant.

The IDF is readying itself for a major operation in northern Gaza, the duration of which is unknown. Some are advocating "Defensive Shield" style incursion, including the call-up thousands of reservists. So far, numerous offensive forays to destroy Kassam factories, helicopter gunship targeted removals of terrorists, roadblocks, naval blockades and the destruction of the tunnels bringing weapons and ammunition from Egypt to Rafiah have been only partially successful.

A long-term stay in northern Gaza not only has the above-mentioned drawbacks but it will force the Hamas to develop longer range Kassams to be fired from within Gaza City neighborhoods. So back to Square 1, but only deeper in the hole.

The answer lies in changing the rules of the game and not allowing the terrorists to continually hide behind a supportive civilian population. The Gaza Strip is dependent on Israeli good will for fuel and electricity. In addition to an occupation of the Kassam firing zones, fuel shipments must be halted, paralyzing Palestinian possibilities for maneuver and vehicle transport of supplies from the Rafiah tunnels northwards. Should the message not be absorbed, eliminating electrical supply would be the next step, silencing the lathes producing Kassam rockets.

Israel does not need a prolonged stay in Gaza if the Palestinian population could be brought to understand the prohibitive price paid for supporting terrorism.