Jerusalem – Nine Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Monday morning, some while people were dropping their children off for school and at day care centers.
The Red Color siren sounded, sending frantic parents and frightened children scurrying in every direction in search of shelter.
The event was documented on video by the Sderot Media Center (www.SderotMedia.com) and shown on television channels in Israel and around the world, giving a better sense of the panic that grips the residents of Sderot every time the Red Color siren is sounded.
In the words of one Israeli journalist:
“How much do we really understand the lives of these people, who, beyond the daily anxieties that every Israeli has who raises a child here, have actual, existential, statistical threats hovering over their heads? A threat that is so horrifying that it is almost surreal: Will my home be hit by Kassam rockets today? Or where will my child be during the next Kassam rocket attack? And the dilemma of every sane parent in Sderot: Am I being irresponsible by continuing to live in a place where the life of my child is in danger?”
Ramon: For Every Rocket, We’ll Cut The Electricity To Gaza
In light of the continued rocket fire on Sderot and the western Negev, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon has suggested that Israel exact a heavy price from the residents of the Gaza Strip. “A price tag needs to be set,” said Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon to Yediot Ahronot yesterday. “For every Kassam rocket fired, we need to cut their electricity, water and fuel.”
Ramon said that Israel would not be able to reconcile itself to these continued terrorist assaults. “It is inconceivable that we should continue to supply the residents of the Gaza Strip with electricity, water and fuel while the citizens of Israel serve as live targets for their rocket fire. A price tag needs to be set. We need to announce that for every rocket that is fired at Israel, we’ll stop for a designated period of time – two to three hours – the supply of electricity, fuel and water to the Gaza Strip.”
Ramon believes that the key lies with the residents of the Gaza Strip, “who will decide whether to continue to allow the Palestinian terror organizations to attack the children and civilians of Sderot. They will be responsible for deciding their own fate and the degree to which they are adversely affected.”
And what will the international community’s reaction be? Ramon believes that it will be understanding for Israel’s actions, “because no country would be prepared to agree to its citizens’ sufferings.” The deputy prime minister intends to introduce his proposal at the next security cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also threatened to intensify the Israeli response to the Kassam rocket fire.
“We need to hit higher in the terrorists’ chain of command. We won’t make compromises on this issue, we won’t limit ourselves,” Olmert said.
Senior political officials said that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has been instructed to deal with every single launcher and with the Islamic Jihad’s chain of command, which is behind the rocket fire. “All those people are marked for death,” said the political officials, citing the Hamas government as “responsible for everything that happens in Gaza.”
Hamas’ Real Military Capability
The IDF harbors no illusions about the military power that is being amassed just beyond the border inside the Gaza Strip. Senior Israeli military officials said that an infantry anti-tank division is already entrenched in preparation for a defensive battle.
Under the commander of Hamas’ division in Gaza are three brigade commanders, who are responsible for three separate sectors. Each brigade has regional battalions that are spread throughout the Gaza Strip and are subdivided into companies, platoons and special forces that have professional training in anti-tank warfare, sappers, reconnaissance, photography and observation.
Operating against the IDF troops that are operating in the “security area” – a one-mile strip inside the Gaza Strip – are Hamas companies that engage in combat with the mobile troops and the ambushes.
Hamas’s division is comprised of two sets of forces. The first is its military wing, which is comprised of 7,000 troops. The second is the Executive Force, which is comprised of 5,000 troops. The Executive Force is the force that was responsible for seizing control of the Gaza Strip for Hamas. It currently is engaged mainly in police tasks and imposing law and public order. But Hamas does not have a manpower problem since 60 percent of the residents of the Gaza Strip are under the age of 20 (some 600,000 young men). The pool from which to draw new troops is almost endless, and there is no lack of weapons either, thanks to the generous supply of munitions from Egypt.
Hamas’ strategic mode of operation is based on two defensive efforts and two offensive efforts. In its defensive efforts, it has built up its strength mainly in the urban areas – either beneath the ground or on the ground floors of populated buildings in order to neutralize the Israel Air Force’s advantage. The second defensive effort is geared to neutralize the advantage the IDF has in its use of protected, armored vehicles.
To that end, Hamas has built obstacles and has laid mines, explosive charges and anti-tank rockets along the length of what it anticipates will be the central roads the IDF will use. Their goal is to exact a heavy price from the IDF for every land invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Offensively, Hamas has improved the commando capabilities of its special forces units. Those units are supposed to operate on the other side of the fence: to attack villages and to kidnap soldiers. At present between two and three attempts are made daily to cross the fence. Most of the attempts are by people who are either looking for work or are trying to flee from Hamas. But some of them are terrorists.
The other offensive effort is focused on the use of rockets. It is clear to Israel that as soon as Hamas obtains rockets with a 18-mile range, it is going to be able to shell Ashkelon from inside Gaza City.
Currently, the IDF is engaged in defending the border. It has not addressed itself to dealing with Hamas’ military production capabilities including the rockets, standard explosive roadside bombs that are capable of penetrating more than a foot of steel, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007