Jerusalem – Kassam rocket barrages returned to pound Sderot with full force.
No less than 30 rockets were fired on Wednesday and Thursday at the city and at the Gaza periphery communities.
In the early morning hours on Wednesday, Sderot residents realized that the relative respite they had enjoyed was over. The threatening Red Color alert sounded again and again in the city.
The peak of these attacks occurred shortly before 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Six Kassam rockets was fired in a single salvo. Two minutes later, two more rockets were fired.
Two of the rockets landed in a shopping center, injuring two people: A 30-year-old foreign worker was hit by shrapnel in the forehead, and a 45-year-old Israeli was injured in the hand. They sustained light injuries and were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
“The Kassam rocket fell in the heart of the commercial center, causing damage to shops,” said Magen David Adom paramedic Maxim Nizri. “We treated the casualties at the spot and evacuated them.” Magen David Adom is the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross.
Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal dismissed talk of a calm that had supposedly existed. “Someone is trying to deceive us by talking about calm. The government has to realize that this is war. We have reached a situation where 20 Kassam rockets a day are considered a calm. This is absurd.
“We are becoming accustomed to concepts that we must not get accustomed to. We have to strike at the terrorists as long as the Kassam rocket fire continues.”
In addition to the Kassam rocket fire, sniper fire from the Gaza Strip at the farmers of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha also continued.
On Wednesday, one farmer was very lightly injured by the fire, and was treated at the spot. The farmers left the fields, and returned with an IDF escort.
“Since the volunteer was killed, we don’t take chances. Immediately after the fire starts, we pack up our gear and leave the area,” said kibbutz security officer Rami Negbi. “The army, which is next to us, does not always respond.”
Senior IDF sources said that the offensive activity in the Gaza Strip would continue. According to the sources, last week, over 20 terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were hit in airstrikes and ground operations.
Hezbollah’s Arms Race
Hezbollah has acquired long-range missiles capable of reaching central Israel and perhaps even Dimona, according to the latest evaluations of the Israel security establishment. But that is not all. According to the same evaluations, Hezbollah has been constantly increasing its stockpile of rockets since the end of the Second Lebanon War, and now has tens of thousands of them, compared with 14,000 in the summer of 2006.
According to the latest Israeli assessments, most of Hezbollah’s rockets are still relatively unsophisticated Katyushas with a range of between 17 and 35 miles, of the same kind to which the IDF already had difficulty finding an answer during the war. But since then, the organization has acquired missiles with very long ranges – that it did not possess in the past – in order to create a new threat to Israel.
During the summer 2006 war, Hezbollah apparently possessed a few dozen Zelzal rockets that were probably capable of reaching Netanya – perhaps even Tel Aviv – if they had been launched from southern Lebanon. Most of them were destroyed by the Israel Air Force. Now it is believed that Hezbollah has missiles with a range of 250 miles, capable of hitting any point in central Israel even if they are launched from the Beirut area, and even Dimona (where the Israeli nuclear reactor is located). Dimona is approximately 260 kilometers from the Lebanese border.
According to these assessments, the new missiles, like the Zelzal, are manufactured by Iran. Hezbollah has apparently replaced those Zelzals that were hit in the war before it was able to fire even one of them.
The longest range of the rockets fired in the war was about 70 kilometers, and they landed in the vicinity of Hadera.
It should be noted that unlike the short-range Katyushas, which the Israel Air Force has difficulty in finding from high altitude because they are very small, the long-range missiles require large launchers, which are easier for the Air Force to hit. Nevertheless, the security establishment attributes great significance to the fact that Hezbollah is striving to bring all of central Israel, and even the south, into the range of its rockets.
According to Israeli assessments, the increase in the number of UNIFIL troops deployed in southern Lebanon, in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, which was adopted at the end of the war, causes no hindrance to Hezbollah’s acquisition of new missiles and other weaponry. Moreover, while UNIFIL, which has increased its activities since the end of the war, is supposed to restrict first and foremost the activities of Hezbollah, Israeli defense officials have recently been complaining more and more that it also hinders the IDF a great deal.
“It is very hard to conduct intelligence-gathering operations, due to the presence of the multi-lateral force,” an IDF source said.
Resolution 1701 defined the size of the force that was to operate in southern Lebanon. Sources in Israel report full cooperation with the U.N. force, but complain that it is ineffective, and that Hezbollah is stockpiling arms without hindrance, contrary to the U.N. resolution.
“In fact,” an IDF source said, “UNIFIL causes us quite a few problems. It is very hard to cross the border fence even by one meter without coordinating with UNIFIL first. It is much harder than in the past to fly over Lebanon, even just for the purpose of taking pictures for purposes of intelligence, and German and Dutch warships patrolling the Lebanese coast in accordance with Resolution 1701 hinder our intelligence gathering activity along the coast.”
Israeli Rabbi: Hang Terrorist’s Sons
“The state of Israel has to hurt them until they cry for help,” wrote the chief rabbi of the Israeli city of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, in an article in the Our Land of Israel newsletter. Rabbi Eliyahu called for vengeance against the Arabs for the terrorist attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva seminary on March 6, when an Arab terrorist murdered eight students in cold blood, in an act which received accolades from the official Palestinian Authority media and the Palestinian street.
“Three weeks have passed since the terrorist attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, and we have not heard of a reprisal operation by Israel,” wrote Rabbi Eliyahu, son of the former chief rabbi of Israel, Mordechai Eliyahu. “A state that truly cares about the lives of its citizens ought to have hanged the 10 sons of the terrorist on a tree 50 cubits high, so that all would see and tremble.”
The Safed rabbi condemned the government’s policy in the strongest terms and said Israel had lost its power of deterrence.
“The state has to hurt them until they shout ‘enough!’ We need vengeance. We need vengeance that will resound across the entire world.”
As soon as the article appeared, police increased security at the Safed College, where there are many Arab students, for fear that one of the rabbi’s students might take him at his word.
Rabbi Eliyahu was not the first to make an extremist statement in the wake of the terrorist attack. He was preceded by Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, son-in-law of a prominent leader, Rabbi Elyashiv. Rabbi Kanievsky said Arabs should not be employed in the yeshiva seminaries. According to an Israeli Orthodox Jewish newspaper Yom Hadash, the rabbi said: “According to Jewish law it is strictly forbidden to employ Arabs, and particularly in the yeshivas.
“It arouses fear for human life, for we are at war with them.” This was in response to a question from principals of yeshivas in Bnei Brak, who asked whether they might continue to employ Arabs.
Israeli Knesset Parliament To Discuss Armenian Genocide For First Time
The Israeli Knesset Parliament will hold a discussion, for the first time, in the Education and Culture Committee on recognition of the Armenian genocide, which occurred in April 1915.
The new chairman of the Meretz faction in the Knesset, MK Haim Oron, who raised the proposal, said that “the Knesset, which represents the Jewish people more than any other body, should recognize the Armenian genocide and say to the Armenian people ‘you have suffered a great tragedy.’ There are moral tests that it is impossible to evade.”
As William Shirer, the New York Times correspondent in Berlin reported in his book, The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, when Nazi Propaganda minister Goebells reassured Hitler that he could get away with the mass murder of the Jews, he reportedly asked Hitler “Does anyone remember the Armenians?”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008