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Terrorist Killing Prompts Gaza Rocket Exchange

Hamas likely uninvolved in ongoing clash; one rocket hits empty school

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Israeli children take cover in a concrete shelter over the weekend.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

This weekend’s battle between Gaza and southern Israel went about as “well” as such an exchange has ever gone, a fact at once encouraging and profoundly depressing. Zero Israeli casualties; extremely effective deployment of the Iron Dome missile-defense shield, which at one point had intercepted 27 of 32 rockets, and which ended up intercepting 44 rockets out of an approximate 160 fired; the deaths of 16 terrorists, including at least one crucial mastermind—and at a cost of only two civilian casualties. Mourn the dead Palestinian civilians—one was reportedly a 12-year-old—but also remember that it was the Israeli civilians who were actually being targeted—including the children that would have occupied the school in Be’er Sheva hit had they, along with 200,000 others, not spent yesterday indoors over precisely such fears.

The firing continued Monday with more than 30 rockets, with one hitting the city of Ashdod and another landing just 40 miles from Tel Aviv. Israel responded with new air strikes that killed two more terrorists and wounded a few dozen, including civilians.

Israel started the exchange in the sense of firing the first salvo. But that salvo was aimed at—and assassinated—a Popular Resistance Committees leader who bragged of kidnapping Gilad Shalit, allegedly planned last summer’s attack from Egypt that killed eight Israeli soldiers, and, according to Israel, was scheming another operation.

By last night, there were signs that things were quieting down, although the morning’s firing may belie that. Nobody in Gaza has pulled out any of the longer-range rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv. Hamas has yet to take responsibility for any attacks.

In fact, there is evidence that Hamas, seeking greater legitimacy by ostensibly unifying with Fatah, did not want this escalation to happen. Prime Minister Netanyahu argued, “The fire from Gaza is an Iranian problem, not a Palestinian problem,” which would implicate the group Islamic Jihad, which continues to receive ample Iranian funding and support, rather than Hamas, which has been on the outs with Tehran for the past couple months—ever since abandoning Iran’s ally, Syria. Hamas is reportedly seeking a ceasefire through its new mediator of choice, Cairo. On the other hand, Hamas is the group most in control of Gaza, and additionally it is in Bibi’s interest—as we saw during last week’s AIPAC Conference—to make everything right now “an Iranian problem, not a Palestinian problem.”

“Israel—despite its mantra that because Hamas is sovereign in Gaza it is responsible for what goes on there—almost seems to understand,” report the indefatigable Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, “and has not bombed Hamas offices or installations. The IDF’s focus on hitting launchers on Sunday generated far fewer casualties than have been seen previously.” The new normal. Encouraging, and depressing.

Gaza Fighting Continues, Despite Truce Efforts [NYT]
Beyond the Gaza Headlines [Times of Israel]
This Round Will Likely Go to Israel [Haaretz]
PM Blames Iran for Gaza Rocket Fire [Arutz Sheva]

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Harold says:

Look at the numbers. Look at the targets. Look at the weapons.

It’s not an “rocket exchange”; don’t call it that.

Phil N says:

This article also has the order of things wrong. The incident was started by arabs firing rockets. The Israelis have shown remarkable restraint in rataliating against these arab attacks. I ddon’t mourn for arab dead regardless of age. A dead arab is one that can no longer kill Jews.

Lansing Reed says:

“Mourn the dead Palestinian civilians—one was reportedly a 12-year-old..”

Seriously? Do you mourn the dead Germans bombed to smithereens in Berlin, Dresden etc?

As Josef Stalin, that paragon of the progressives, would put it, you are an infantile leftist.

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

A few clarifications & corrections are in order.

The Iron Dome system does **NOT** attempt to intercept every rocket it attacks. Rather, it automatically calculates the rocket’s trajectory and determines whether or not it will hit in a populated, built up area or in an open area. If the former then it launches 2 interceptor missiles to intercept & destroy the incoming rocket. If the latter, then it does not attempt the intercept. The reason is simple: each missile costs about $50K (at Sam’s Wholesale Missiles on the Lower East Side) so an intercept costs ~$100K – a lot of money to stop an $800 (at most) rocket.

So when the Israeli media is reporting an intercept success rate of upwards of 90%, that is 90% of attempted intercepts, not total missiles fired. Also some of rockets are fired in areas (e.g. the Gaza “envelope” close to the eastern border) that don’t have an Iron Dome battery deployed in their area. Only 3 batteries are deployed. A fourth is supposed to be deployed this summer but that may be moved up to the next few weeks. BTW, each missile battery costs about $5 million (cheaper than a tank though).

The intercepted rocket is blown up in flight which means all kinds of debris fall to the ground at high speeds. This includes the ball bearings packed into the warhead intended to boost the rocket’s anti-personnel lethality. So many of those injured were actually hit by this falling debris while watching the intercept. That is why the IDF Home Front Command repeatedly tells people to stay indoors in shelters even when protected by an Iron Dome battery.

As of this writing, over 200 rockets & mortar shells have been fired into Israel.

A number of countries have expressed interest in buying Iron Dome batteries, including the USA.

The welcome upstart “Times of Israel” has a nice summary of the Iron Dome story, here:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iron-dome-the-newly-beloved-missile-defense-system-that-nobody-wanted/

hg

J’lem / Efrata

2000

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Terrorist Killing Prompts Gaza Rocket Exchange

Hamas likely uninvolved in ongoing clash; one rocket hits empty school

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