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It was only a matter of time. The "harmless" Qassam rockets of the Palestinian "resistance" have killed before and today they killed again. To express their gratitude for Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip, the heroes of the Palestinian resistance have been firing an unrelenting barrage of Qassam rockets on Israeli towns, which increased following Israeli withdrawal and again in March of 2006, when Hamas took over the government. That is the way the Hamas implement their "truce."

Qassam rockets fired at Sderot killed 57 year old Fatima Slutzky and deprived a 24 year old bodyguard of Defense Minister Amir Peretz of the use of his legs. According to the Hamas, Sderot, inside "Green Line" Israel, is part of occupied Palestine. All of Palestine is part of the holy waqf given to Muslims by Allah and must never be surrendered. Therefore the rocket fire on civilians is both a holy commandment and a "legitimate resistance" action sanctioned by international law. The UN Human Rights Commission agrees. Killing Palestinian Arabs is against international law, so the Human Rights Commission is getting set to condemn Israel for accidentally killing Palestinian Arabs in Beit Hanoun. On the other hand, neither they nor anyone else have tried to stop the rain of Qassams, which is made possible by Arab state financing and Egyptian complicity in arms smuggling.

At least, the Israeli human rights group, Betselem, had the decency to condemn the Qassam attack. However, Betselem warned that while Israel has the right to defend itself, it would be violating "International Humanitarian Law" if some civilians got killed in the process.

In ordinary cases the law is clear. If a man repeatedly fires an automatic weapon in a football stadium, the police snipers will use all force needed to stop him, even if nearby fans are hurt as well. It doesn't matter if the man has bad aim and only kills people occasionally. Apparently however, if the football stadium is in Israel, and a man says he is part of the "resistance" nobody is allowed to touch him. It is against "International Humanitarian Law."

Even if the Qassams had never killed anyone, the potential is always there. Aside from the fatalities, the casualties that didn't manage to make headline stories in CNN include many others who lost limbs like the 24 year old guard.

Apologists for the terrorists will claim that the rockets were "revenge" for the accidental killing of 19 Arab Palestinians in Beit Hanoun. If you believe that claim, then you have to believe that the terrorists have found a secret guidance system that can direct their rockets to kill people. These are just tubes filled with explosives. X number fall every day, and there is a small but finite chance of hitting a human target. Not long ago Qassam rockets landed in a Yeshiva school. Luckily, the students were not there. Tomorrow, rockets might wreck a kindergarten full of toddlers or hit a gas works or chemical plant in Ashqelon, generating an inferno of fire and poison gas that could kill hundreds.

If French or American cities had been subjected to terror of this nature for months, there is no doubt that the governments of those countries would have taken effective measures to wipe out the source of the terror, whatever the cost. Nobody would have accused them of violating "International Humanitarian Law." How many people did the US kill in Afghanistan, because of a single attack on September 11, 2001?

On the day preceding the attack, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin warned:

Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies offers a combined but limited strategy, but the combined strategy has been tried and found wanting. Panaceas such as one time strikes and targeted killings have not been effective. Since the Palestinians have smuggled in about 30 tons of weaponry and will continue to increase their arsenal, we can expect that the rocket fire will expand to Ashdod and eventually Tel Aviv.

Unfortunately, there is no diplomatic solution in the offing. The fire is encouraged by the Hamas and the Fateh as a way of drawing Israeli fire and thereby cementing Palestinian "unity." The only "unity" that Palestinians can achieve is based on the prisoners' document which legitimizes continuation of the "armed struggle."

This unity will probably shortly be expressed in a Palestinian "unity government," which optimists hoped would bring an end to violence, recognition of the right of Israel to exist and peace negotiations. However, it is now apparent that the unity government will be nothing of the kind. Hamas spokesman have reiterated that the new government will not recognize the right of Israel to exist or accept a two state solution.The prospect is that the Palestinian terror groups will continue to fire rockets while their government talks about their truce and Israeli "atrocities" at the same time. The entity that is taking shape in the Gaza Strip is outside of any peace process, and it is not a state, so it is not subject to constraints of International law that are applied to at least some states (notably Israel).

The unity agreement will extend this entity to the West bank. If not stopped, the Palestinians will continue the terror tactics until they achieve what they define as their "rights." Since these include "right of return" of Arab Palestinian refugees, we should not delude ourselves that any withdrawals by Israel to any other borders will stop the terror. There may be good reasons for such withdrawals, or for evacuating settlements, but they will not stop the rockets, suicide bombers or other types of attacks as they see fit. The Palestinian strategy, which has evolved as a result of lessons learned from the previous round of violence they initiated, is to apply just enough terror to make normal life impossible, but not enough terror to give even Israel a clear case for taking decisive action. The threshold of what is permitted in the eyes of the world is slowly raised by habituation. Kidnapping of soldiers and constant rocket attacks, which would be a casus belli for a normal state, are not considered sufficient provocation any more. Eventually, artillery fire on Tel Aviv will be in the same category.

Invasion of the Gaza strip, "reversing the consequences of Oslo," is not a panacea either. Those who advocate it should consider the less than stellar results of the recent Lebanon war (see here, here and here for excellent discussions). Even if Israel does not suffer the humiliating setbacks experienced in Lebanon, the results of any war have to be judged in terms of the long term strategic and political outcomes, and this depends on planning ahead. It is not possible to "reverse the consequences of Oslo" because thanks to Islamist militancy and al-Qaeda, occupied Gaza would become a miniature Iraq. The US won an easy military victory in Iraq, but look at the long term consequences. Any solution must be undertaken in the framework of a coordinated, long term military and diplomatic strategy with clear and agreed goals and international cooperation. All indications are that there are no partners abroad for such a strategy and that the current government may be incapable of shaping it and mustering the internal political support needed to sustain it.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000290.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 1 Comment

The Qassam rockets, like the people who manufacture and fire them, remind me of a line from a poem that a psychiatrist once applied to schizophrenia, "full of sound and fury... ...symbolizing nothing".

nothing in the sense of the nihilism that drives people who insist that terror is a legitimate response to a political solution they do not care for.

Lynne T, Wednesday, November 22nd

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