Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rockets Land: Israel Needs to Act

If you read any of the Israeli press you know that every single day the Palestinians fire Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel. These rockets are homemade and wildly inaccurate, but they do cause property damage and occasionally kill people. Last week for the first time the Palestinians fired a Katyusha rocket into Israel towards the city of Ashkelon. This shows the Palestinians are successfully smuggling weapons into Gaza, weapons that could seriously threaten Israeli towns and villages. The Israeli government reaction has been timid at best.

Aharon, writing in Blogs of Zion, makes a strong case that the likely new Kadima-Labour coalition government must act to successfully stop rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza before it unilaterally withdraws from land in Judea and Samaria. Failing that Israel's major cities would be subject to rocket fire.

The question of how to deal with this was put to Labour leader Amir Peretz in the run up to last week's Israeli elections. Here is Aharon's first person account of what happened. Aharon's reaction to Mr. Peretz' answer is also insightful:
During the run up to the vote I managed to squeeze into a restaraunt where Peretz was pressing flesh. A woman, a British Olah, called out to him in Hebrew (he doesn't speak American, kal vachomer British) "What are you going to do about the Kassams?" He responded that he is from Sderot and that he knows the people of Sderot are proud to be on the front lines.

First, I admire the Zionist bravado. I'm proud of our border yishuvim that stand firm. But, for their sake and the country's, that's not a good enough answer, especially because we aren't talking Sderot but also Ashkelon. The Zionist ethos seems to run less strong in cities than in small towns and the Olmert Peretz team need to do more than just rely on the willingness of Israeli citizens to stand firm and keep the bomb shelters clean.

This is only to say that a government of Israel that is planning to enact more pullouts needs to show that it can keep the rockets off our heads, especially when those pullouts will open up launching sites near our major cities. And the proving ground for this ability has to be Gaza.
I agree with Aharon. Something needs to be done and the Israeli government needs to act. If it takes overwhelming force to stop rocket attacks then force is what is needed. The first responsibility of any government is to protect it's citizens. Prime Minister Olmert needs to worry less about what the international community thinks and more about insuring the safety of Israelis.

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