Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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27 Kislev 5766 - December 28, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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What is the Answer to Gaza Kassams?

by Mordecai Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

In the months since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Kassam missiles have continued to fall regularly. There was no significant difference in the rate that prevailed before the withdrawal and after the withdrawal. So far Israel has not developed an "answer" — in military terms, a reply that will stop them. The latest suggestion is that Israel will establish a "no-go" zone in the northern parts of the Gaza strip that will at least force the missiles to be fired from farther away.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has not done anything effective to stop the rockets. According to some reports, PA security officers "patrol" the areas in which missiles are fired, in effect providing cover for the terrorists since IDF artillery crews have to be careful not to hit them. Terrorists have even boasted about establishing a "no-go" zone on the Israeli side.

Military spokesmen say that 70 percent of the launched missiles have been falling within the Gaza strip, but the 30 percent that have been falling in Israel are still way too many. The rockets are very inaccurate and usually fall and explode harmlessly. However if they score a direct hit they can kill, and the noise is frightening in any case. On Monday one landed very close to a Chanukah party for children.

According to prominent media reports the IDF is planning more aggressive action in the northern Gaza Strip. This will most likely start in the new buffer zone, from where the Kassams are fired.

Israeli military leaders have said publicly that they are not planning a widespread military operation of ground troops, but rather air strikes and artillery fire. Israel does not want to be accused of foiling the scheduled Palestinian elections.

In keeping with policy for military activity in an inhabited area from which rockets are launched, the IDF will advise the Palestinian residents to stay in their homes. The army will warn residents that leaving their homes will mean putting themselves in danger.

The security zone declared by the IDF in the northern Gaza strip is more than five kilometers deep and includes two large Palestinian towns: Beit Hanun and Beit Lakia. The Kassam rockets have been launched recently mainly from around Beit Hanun.

"We will consider anyone who tries to enter the area armed and dangerous and act accordingly," an official said. "We are looking for deterrence. We want people to understand that if they go into the area they will be targeted."

The official also said that Israel understood this policy would likely cause hardship to the Palestinian population in the area, but the hope was that the population would then prevail on the terrorist organizations involved to stop. "If it causes inconvenience to the population they are urged to put pressure on Islamic Jihad, the ones hurting them," the official said.

In one of the recent Kassam attacks, a team of Islamic Jihad activists launched the rocket from very close to a neighborhood built with funds contributed by Abu Dhabi to the Palestinian Authority. Many officers of the Palestinian defense branches purchased the relatively spacious apartments in it.

The prime minister and cabinet have approved the IDF's planned activity; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon even urged the IDF to react more firmly to the Kassam attacks. The IDF presented several proposals, not all of which were approved.

The IDF's "targeted assassination" operations, which have recently focused on Islamic Jihad people, have failed to put an end to the Kassam fire, which has recently been aimed mainly towards Ashkelon and its surroundings.

Defense minister Mofaz said that the policy of targeted assassinations, especially against the leaders of Islamic Jihad who were responsible for recent attacks, would continue. He said that Hamas had not been involved in the recent attacks.

Mofaz also said that a closure that was clamped on the territories last week would continue through Chanukah.

Transportation Minister Shetreet had an original suggestion: "For a relatively small amount of money we can manufacture small missiles that make a lot of noise, very little damage and when they fall on someone's head they can kill him, exactly like the Kassams do."

The government intends to make available a further NIS 125 million to complete a plan to protect Israeli towns in the so- called "Gaza envelope" from Kassam rockets. The government approved a comprehensive, NIS 210 million plan a few months ago but only NIS 85 million had been disbursed as of last week.


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