The Israeli Army is now preparing residents of the cities of Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat in Israel’s northern Negev region for rocket attacks from Gaza.

The Israel security establishment has information indicating that the Hamas regime in Gaza Strip holds improved Grad long-range rockets, which can reach the heart of the strategic and economically-vital Israeli port city of Ashdod.

“Following the possibility that rockets could also reach your area of residence, there is great importance in having you and your family prepare for difficulties that are unfamiliar in everyday life,” states the letter sent yesterday by the Israeli Army Home Front Command to the residents of Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat.

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In the letter, the Home Front Command personnel explain to the residents that they must verify the location of the fortified room or indoor bomb shelter in their home, and make sure that all family members are aware of its location. They are to equip the fortified room with basic supplies. such as water, first aid equipment, canned goods, a fire extinguisher and basic personal supplies for children.

On Sunday, Home Front Command personnel toured the cities, distributed the letters and explained the guidelines to the residents in person. The residents received the explanations with alarm, and found it difficult to believe that the threat from Gaza had reached them too.

“The government must stop every such threat. It is unthinkable for the entire region to live in danger. Where will this end? The government can be sure that we won’t let this happen, and won’t agree for the entire south to be abandoned,” said Kiryat Gat’s Chief Rabbi Moshe Havelin.

“There is no doubt that the population should be prepared for the worst, although I don’t believe that the State of Israel will permit fire on Ashdod from the Gaza Strip,” said Ashdod’s security officer Aryeh Itah yesterday. “In such a case, it would mean crossing all red lines. It would be best to prepare the residents now, so that an emergency situation doesn’t catch us unprepared.”

Several weeks ago,the Home Front Command completed the overall deployment in Ashdod and installed a red color siren alert system in the city, which has still not been hooked up.

“Two weeks ago we installed sirens on the municipality building, and we are carrying out exercises,” said Kiryat Malachi Mayor Motti Malka. “In general, I can say that we are prepared, but I’m not willing to accept this situation. A city like Kiryat Malachi must not be willing to live like Sderot.”

A Home Front Command source clarified: “The purpose of the letter is not to cause panic among the residents, but to convey the message that anyone who prepares according to the guidelines and acts as they should, will be able to cope with the situation more easily and, of course, to save lives.”

In addition, it has been reported that the Beer Sheva municipality will soon convene the security officers of local schools to receive a briefing from the Home Front Command on guiding teachers and pupils in case of an escalation and rocket fire on the capital of the Negev. A source in the Beer Sheva municipality said that in light of the situation, it was decided this year to invite Home Front Command officials to a preparatory exercise in schools.

The Hamas regime in Gaza fired about 100 rockets in the past week. About a month ago, when the IDF operated against a tunnel, Hamas fired 30 standard-issue Grad rockets. If Hamas can allow itself to fire 30 Grad rockets just to signal, the Israeli security establishment concludes that Gaza’s storehouses are probably full.

According to assessments in Israel, Hamas has assembled an emergency stock of fuel, diesel fuel and food, which will enable it to last for a month under an Israeli attack. All this, while information specialists of the Hamas regime in Gaza claim that food and energy supplies are running out, instead of reporting that these supplies are being stored for war.

Hamas currently maintains eight brigades in the Gaza Strip, deployed in three circles: On the border, in a security strip and in depth formation. This Hamas army numbers almost 17,000 people, including police officers. All receive salaries from the Hamas authorities. Israel transfers funds to Gaza, so that the banks in Gaza will be able to continue to pay the salaries of the Hamas Troops, transforming Israel into a government that supplies funds to terrorists.

Israeli Legal Advice: Fire On Gaza Only In Open Areas

Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak requested advice from the security establishment’s legal adviser to enable the Israeli army to fire into Gaza, due to the escalation in Gaza rocket fire in the past month.

The Legal adviser to the Israel Ministry of Defense, Mr. Ahaz Ben-Ari stated in his opinion that according to international law, fire can only be aimed at open areas, yet not at built-up areas. “There is no blanket prohibition in international law on artillery fire towards military targets in the Gaza Strip,” wrote Attorney Ben-Ari. “However, in light of the fact that artillery fire has a very low level of accuracy, and causes a relatively high degree of damage, artillery fire can only be carried out towards relatively open areas, if it is believed that the rocket cells will be hit as a result and that the launches from these areas will be stopped or reduced, and this fire will not cause excessive damage to civilians who may be in the area.”

Despite these restrictions, the legal adviser clarified that if repeated fire is identified from a built-up area, “the response can be increased by giving the residents of this area warning of the intention to respond with fire, with a recommendation to evacuate the area within a reasonable period of time.”

Mr. Ben-Ari made it clear that in any case, “carpet bombing” was not authorized, even if the population had abandoned the area, in order to prevent complete destruction of civilian property. What Mr. Ben-Ari did not consider was that any warning delivered by the Israeli army of imminent attack on an Arab village would generate a counter response, with the likelihood being that terrorists would invite TV crews and various levels of the civilian population to act as human shields against any planned Israeli attack.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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