At least one Israeli has been killed, and several others wounded after palestinians fired as least 30 Qassam rockets into Sderot and surrounding communities.
The dead man was a 30-year-old student in his car, who suffered lethal shrapnel wounds to the chest after a Qassam hit Sapir College.
The deadly barrage came hours after the IAF killed five Hamas terrorists apparently planning a large scale terrorist attack against Israel after having been trained in Iran.
Updates (Israel time)
6:08PM: Infolive.tv reports that the dead man was a student in his twenties.
6:18PM: The last person to be killed by a Qassam was Oshri Oz, who was also killed when a rocket landed near his car.
6:22PM: About 10 minutes ago, 4 Qassams landed in Ashkelon, including one which landed in the Barzilai hospital grounds. No injuries have been reported, but several people have reportedly been treated for shock.
6:27PM: Now reports that one man was lightly wounded in the Ashkelon attack.
6:35PM: Today’s Euphemism of the day is courtesy of the palestinian WAFA agency:
Israeli air strikes killed on Wednesday at least five citizens in the Gaza Strip city of Khanyounis, medical sources said.
They added that Israeli warplanes targeted a van, killing instantly five citizens and wounding others, some seriously. Nasser hospital reported that the bodies were torn into pieces.
Earlier, in a separate air attack, a citizen was killed east of al- Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
They are, of course, referring to the Hamas terrorists.
6:46PM: Prime Minister Olmert: “No one in Hamas, not the low-level officials nor the highest echelon, will be immune against this war.”
6:48PM: 2 more Qassams, bringing today’s total so far to 42.
Of course, people like John Dugard, independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the UN Human Rights Council, will tell you it’s not really terrorism.
7:05PM: Judging by this picture and caption, the wounded includes Arabs.
A wounded woman is taken for treatment after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza, landed in the Sapir college near the southern Israeli town of Sderot Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008. A Palestinian rocket slammed into the college campus in southern Israel on Wednesday, killing one man and lightly wounding a second person, Israeli medical officials said, in a sign of a possible escalation in the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Islamic militant Hamas militant, which controls Gaza, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. It said it had launched more than 20 rockets at Israel, including eight at Sderot. (AP Photo / Tsafrir Abayov)
8:47PM: Contrary to earlier reports, the victim was not a 30-year-old, nor a twenty something, but rather a 47-year-old father of four.
9:05PM: More on the victim:
Yechiya, a father of four from the community of Bitcha near Ofakim, underwent a kidney transplant operation in the United States five years ago.
9:25PM: Yesterday,Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal had this to say at a protest tent he had established in a corner of Tel Aviv’s Kikar Rabin.
“The State of Israel has lost its dignity. Yes, countries have dignity, too. Any country that allows its sovereignty to be violated 50 times a day will eventually wither and fall.”
These words resonate even stronger today.
10:25PM: Israellycool friend and reader Noah has drawn my attention to this great article by Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal (formerly of the Jerusalem Post).
The Israeli town of Sderot lies less than a mile from the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the intifada seven years ago, it has borne the brunt of some 2,500 Kassam rockets fired from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists. Only about a dozen of these Kassams have proved lethal, though earlier this month brothers Osher and Rami Twito were seriously injured by one as they walked down a Sderot street on a Saturday evening. Eight-year-old Osher lost a leg.
It is no stretch to say that life in Sderot has become unendurable. Palestinians and their chorus of supporters — including the 118 countries of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, much of Europe, and the panoply of international aid organizations from the World Bank to the United Nations — typically reply that life in the Gaza Strip is also unendurable, and that Palestinian casualties greatly exceed Israeli ones. But this argument is fatuous: Conditions in Gaza, in so far as they are shaped by Israel, are a function of conditions in Sderot. No Palestinian Kassams (or other forms of terrorism), no Israeli “siege.”
[The Sderot Calculus]
The more vexing question, both morally and strategically, is what Israel ought to do about Gaza. The standard answer is that Israel’s response to the Kassams ought to be “proportionate.” What does that mean? Does the “proportion” apply to the intention of those firing the Kassams — to wit, indiscriminate terror against civilian populations? In that case, a “proportionate” Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza. Or should proportion apply to the effects of the Kassams — an exquisitely calibrated, eye-for-eye operation involving the killing of a dozen Palestinians and the deliberate maiming or traumatizing of several hundred more?
Surely this isn’t what advocates of proportion have in mind. What they really mean is that Israel ought to respond with moderation. But the criteria for moderation are subjective. Should Israel pick off Hamas leaders who are ordering the rocket attacks? The European Parliament last week passed a resolution denouncing the practice of targeted assassinations. Should Israel adopt purely economic measures to punish Hamas for the Kassams? The same resolution denounced what it called Israel’s “collective punishment” of Palestinians. Should Israel seek to dismantle the Kassams through limited military incursions? This, too, has the unpardonable effect of resulting in too many Palestinian casualties, which are said to be “disproportionate” to the number of Israelis injured by the Kassams.
By these lights, Israel’s presumptive right to self-defense has no practical application as far as Gaza is concerned. Instead, Israel is counseled to allow goods to flow freely into the Strip, and to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.
But here another set of considerations intrudes. Hamas was elected democratically and by overwhelming margins in Gaza. It has never once honored a cease-fire with Israel. Following Israel’s withdrawal of its soldiers and settlements from the Strip in 2005 there was a six-fold increase in the number of Kassam strikes on Israel.
Hamas has also made no effort to rewrite its 1988 charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction. The charter is explicitly anti-Semitic: “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” (Article Seven) “In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.” (Article 15) And so on.
It would seem perverse for Israeli taxpayers, including residents of Sderot, to feed the mouth that bites them. It would seem equally perverse for Israel merely to bide its time for an especially unlucky day — a Kassam hitting a busload of schoolchildren, for instance — before striking hard at Gaza. But unless Israel is willing to accept the military, political and diplomatic burdens of occupying all or parts of Gaza indefinitely, the effects of a major military incursion could be relatively short-lived. Israel suffered many more casualties before it withdrew from the Strip than it has since.
Perhaps the answer is to wait for a technological fix and, in the meantime, hope for the best. Israel is at work on a missile-defense program called “Iron Dome” that may be effective against Kassams, though the system won’t be in place for at least two years. It could also purchase land-based models of the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, used by the U.S. to defend the Green Zone in Baghdad.
But technology addresses neither the Islamic fanaticism that animates Hamas nor the moral torpor of Western policy makers and commentators who, on balance, find more to blame in Israel’s behavior than in Hamas’s. Nor, too, would an Iron Dome or the Phalanx absolve the Israeli government from the necessity of punishing those who seek its destruction. Prudence is an important consideration of statesmanship, but self-respect is vital. And no self-respecting nation can allow the situation in Sderot to continue much longer, a point it is in every civilized country’s interest to understand.
On March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked the border town of Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson ordered Gen. John J. Pershing and 10,000 soldiers into Mexico for nearly a year to hunt Villa down, in what was explicitly called a “punitive expedition.” Pershing never found Villa, making the effort something of a failure. Then again, Villa’s raid would be the last significant foreign attack on continental U.S. soil for 85 years, six months and two days.
11:03PM: Hamas have reportedly claimed that the IAF bombed the Gaza Interior Ministry building.
11:15PM: Further to the last update:
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also holds the post of Interior Minister although he was not in the building at the time of the attack.
Let me guess. He was out playing soccer?
About the AuthorAn Australian immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave has been blogging since early 2003.
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